Terry Richardson faces new sexual assault lawsuits from former models
Fashion photographer Terry Richardson, famous for a string of accusations over the past decade, is now facing new lawsuits as former models come forward with allegations of sexual assault.
Model Minerva Portillo, who now lives in Spain, has filed a lawsuit against Richardson under New York’s Adult Survivors Act. This act provides a one-year window for victims to file civil suits for sexual assault, even if criminal statutes of limitations have expired.
Portillo alleges that during a photo shoot in 2004, Richardson drugged her, leading to a state of disorientation. The lawsuit accuses Richardson of posing inappropriately with her and forcing her to perform oral sex on Richardson.
Richardson’s employees allegedly captured the assault on camera. The photographs were later published in a book by Richardson and exhibited publicly in his ‘Terry World’ exhibition. Both were without Portillo’s consent.
Portillo claims she returned the following day due to fear of losing support for her visa and career. After the images were published, Portillo’s model agency dropped her from their books.
Portillo’s lawyer, Carolin Guentert emphasized the lasting impact on Portillo’s life and career, stating, “It just really altered the trajectory of her career and her life.”
Terry Richardson & more lawsuits
Just two days after Portillo filed the suit, former model and actress Caron Bernstein also filed a lawsuit against Richarson. The same scenario plays out with Bernstein accusing Richardson of coercing her to perform unwanted sex acts during a shoot. Those acts were also photographed and publicly exhibited without her consent.
Richardson has faced numerous accusations over the years, with the fashion industry eventually distancing itself from the controversial photographer.
Some publications, including Condé Nast and Vogue, have implemented bans on Richardson. However, but his controversial photography style and ongoing collaborations with industry insiders continue.
It’s clear that this man is not safe working with models. He is taking advantage of the power imbalance that exists between a famous fashion photographer and a young model who wants to make it in the industry. Even if the acts were consensual, there is still exploitation happening. To then publicly exhibit the assault adds even more trauma.
Perhaps this latest round of lawsuits can finally put him where he belongs: behind bars and named as a predator of young women.
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe