That's not an 'Oral Contract,' Model Says
LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Miss Universe Organization thrusts "unsuspecting young girls into the clutches of hired and contracted alleged sexual predators and deviants," according to a lawsuit from a woman who claims her recruiter told her he could make her famous if she gave him oral sex in a car at a Starbucks parking lot.
Ashleigh Blake, 21, sued Miss California USA, Miss Universe Organization, Keith Lewis -a former state director for Miss California USA, and Miss California Teen USA pageant recruiter Domingo Rodriguez, in Superior Court.
NBC Universal and Donald Trump co-own the Miss Universe Organization. Neither are parties to the lawsuit.
"This complaint brings to light ugly secrets of the beauty pageant industry. Specifically, how defendants, have consistently failed to responsibly supervise; vet and screen personnel hired and/or contracted by the pageant organization and have turned a blind eye to known dangerous propensities, inclinations and past criminal associations and accusations," the lawsuit filing states.
Alleging fraud, negligence, unfair competition and other charges, Blake claims Rodriguez "enticed her" at a November 2012 meeting at Clarion Hotel in the Bay Area after the aspiring model and part-time tutor was approached by a Miss California USA recruiting agency.
At the meeting, Rodriguez complimented her "astonishing good looks," telling her he could get her a cover shoot for a Miami magazine and that he would take her modeling career to the "next level," Blake says in the complaint.
She claims he also told her not to worry about paying a nonrefundable $895 entry fee.
But the "promises were nothing but a mere ploy to entice Ms. Blake into performing sexual favors for Rodriguez," according to the 21-page lawsuit.
Though she had misgivings about Rodriguez, Blake says her worries were assuaged when she called pageant producer K2 Productions, of which Lewis was a co-director.
K2 vouched for Rodriguez as a "trusted" agent of Hollywood agency Chase the Crown, then the official recruiting agency for Miss California, Blake claims.
Based on those assurances, Blake says, she sent Rodriguez four modeling photographs he had requested. Soon after, she claims, an agency asked her if she'd be interested in posing for sexually explicit photos.
After she rejected the offer, Blake says, Rodriguez told her he wanted to meet her in person to discuss the Miami magazine shoot, and sent her "inspirational texts" that said: "Keep smiling ... visualize success."
To Blake's surprise, Rodriguez told her the meeting would take place in his car at a Starbucks parking lot in Tracy, in San Joaquin County, she says.
"During the in-car meeting, Rodriguez explained the terms of the 'oral' contract," the complaint states.
"Specifically, he explained that in exchange for sexual favors and oral sex commencing during the time of the meeting, she would be 'fast-tracked' to the top - as '90 percent' of those who are successful do."
Blake claims Rodriguez said her "path to fame would be guaranteed."
She "instantly became apprehensive, upset and in shock over what Rodriguez, a pageant agent, was proposing. She immediately exited the vehicle, confused, crying, and in fear for her safety," the complaint states.
Blake says she tried to file a criminal complaint the next day with the Tracy Police Department, but was told that "since Rodriguez had not physically forced her to engage in a sexual act, her only recourse was to file a civil one."
She says she reported the incident to Lewis, who assured her that Rodriguez would be fired.
"Although Lewis emailed Ms. Blake that he was 'horrified by her experience' and would remedy the situation, he also cautioned her that she not discuss the ordeal with anyone, 'to prevent the possibility of tainting the outcome,'" Blake says.
After telling her Rodriguez had been fired, she claims, Lewis promised he would get a therapist for her.
When that didn't happen, Blake says, she realized that Miss California "would not be doing anything to aid her through this horrific ordeal."
Blake says in the lawsuit that Lewis is an associate of Chase the Crown president and founder Erik DeSando - the subject of $20 million class action lawsuit involving his talent agency Be Productions, where Rodriguez also allegedly worked.
That 2010 lawsuit claimed the agency illegally charged families thousands of dollars in advance fees so their children could audition for directors and casting directors.
Blake claims that DeSando was fired "following allegations of similar opportunistic sexual favors in exchange for stardom."
"But for defendant's ineffective, or non-existing profiling, background checks, or vetting, Ms. Blake would never have been thrust into Rodriguez's disgusting scheme for personal sexual gratification," the lawsuit states.
Blake seeks at least $200,000 in damages, and punitive damages, for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, false advertising, unfair competition, negligence, breach of contract and breach of faith.
She is represented by Wilfredo Trivino-Perez.