Cailin drank several Stoli and sodas with her friend last February and knew she was in no shape to drive. So she ordered a Lyft.
Ann went to three bars with her friends on a chilly March evening in 2018. By the end of the night, she was so intoxicated that strangers from the bar waited outside with her for the Lyft to arrive.
Cailin and Ann, both women in their late 30s who work in white-collar jobs and live west of Boston, trusted the ride-hailing company would help get them home safe.
Instead, they said, they were both raped by their drivers, according to court and police documents.
Both women are among dozens of women across the country who have accused the ride-hailing company of failing to put in basic security measures that might have prevented the attacks against them. They have joined in lawsuits that have put San Francisco-based Lyft on the defensive and upended its claims that it is more socially responsible than its competitor, Uber.
Ann, 39, was attacked inside her own home. Cailin fell asleep in the back of the car and woke up to find her driver had unbuttoned her pants and was groping her. Cailin’s assailant, Oscar D. Salguero, 28, of Framingham, pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault and battery on Sept. 6. Igor Dias, 34, of Marlborough, was arraigned on Sept. 20 on one count of rape for allegedly attacking Ann.
Cailin, who agreed to be identified only by her first name, said she is disturbed by the thought that Lyft took a percentage of the ride she paid for that night.
“They got paid for me being sexually assaulted,” Cailin said. “Lyft is profiting from this.”
Campbell Matthews, a Lyft spokeswoman, said the company has invested in new features and policies to protect passengers and drivers. The company says it is doing daily screening of drivers’ criminal backgrounds to ensure there have been no new arrests. Lyft has long had an app that allows passengers to share where they are going with friends and family, according to the company.
In the wake of the lawsuits, an emergency system was installed in the app that lets a passenger contact a 911 dispatcher. The company also said it has partnered with the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, the nation’s largest anti-sexual-violence organization, to create sexual violence prevention education that drivers will be required to take.
“What these riders describe is awful, and something no one should have to endure,” Matthews said in an e-mail. “We constantly work to improve the platform.’’
Lyft’s new changes would not have helped many of the women who were assaulted, said Michael Bomberger, a San Diego-based attorney who represents Cailin and Ann, along with at least 22 other women who say they were assaulted by their Lyft drivers in 2018 and 2019.
Almost all of the women were alone. Some needed rides to remote areas where there was little lighting and few houses. Many had been drinking and fell unconscious in the backseat. One of the women was blind, according to the lawsuit Bomberger filed in San Francisco Superior Court.
“Lyft knows that these people are vulnerable,” Bomberger said. “They should be doing something to try and prevent these assaults and they’re not.”
The company, he said, needs to install readily available technology, like video and audio surveillance that can be plugged into the app and warning notifications that force drivers who have gone off course to report the circumstances.
Ann, 39, said when her Lyft driver pulled up to her apartment, she was so drunk she stumbled out of the car and fell as she tried to climb the steep steps of her building. Before she knew it, the driver was next to her, helping her up.
“What a perfect gentleman,” Ann recalled thinking. She asked to be identified only by her middle name. (The Boston Globe does not identify sexual assault victims without their consent.)
Ann, who works in the medical device compliance industry, said she does not recall the driver coming into her apartment. But she can remember walking back from her kitchen and suddenly being spun around by the shoulders.
He then forced her to perform oral sex on him. At 5-foot-10, with an athletic build, Ann said she towered over her attacker. But in her state, she could not fight back at first.
Then, she began to throw her body against his. She said she did this over and over again, screaming in the hopes that her neighbor might hear. No one came, but her last memory of that night is seeing her assailant throw up his hands and retreat.
She spent the next day sick and struggling to recall the details of the night before. It was not until Monday, when she talked to her work friend that she fully grasped what happened. Ann recalled bursting into tears.
“That’s when it really hit me,” Ann said. “I was indeed raped.”
Cailin, a 39-year-old contracts manager for a telecommunications company, said her driver, Salguero, tried to make conversation when she got into the car.
“You look like a sad girl,” she remembered him saying.
Cailin said she ignored him and lowered her head. She believes she must have fallen asleep because when she woke up, the driver had his hand between her legs while he was still driving. The pain was excruciating, but all she could think of was getting home to her 7-year-old son.
“I did freeze. I thought that I just had to accept it,” said Cailin. “The only thing that got me through this was my son and thinking that he wasn’t going to have a mother who is a victim.”
Cailin said she suddenly felt a flash of fury. She grabbed the driver by the neck and started cursing at him. He pulled over, tried to throw her out, and drove off dragging her. Her purse was still in the car when she managed to free herself.
Cailin ran to a house about 500 feet away and pounded on the door. The owners called 911. Police later found her purse on the side of the road.
Salguero was sentenced to 2½ years in jail and will have to register as a sex offender.
Dias, Ann’s alleged attacker, was released on personal recognizance following his arraignment.
He is on a GPS device and cannot leave his home from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Ann said she has been unable to leave her house since Dias was released. She is now in therapy, still trying to remember everything that happened the night of her attack.
“I woke up with no clothes on,” she said. “I don’t remember my clothes being off.”
She also cannot explain why her assailant’s DNA was found on parts of her body she does not remember him touching.
“That’s just the part that’s really frightening,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever know.”