PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – A teen-age au pair from Germany claims a placement agency aided and abetted an employer who sexually assaulted her, and that the agency knew or should have known that he had done the same thing to two other women the agency had placed in his home.
Amely Mae Conrad sued US Au Pair and Helene Young for fraud, negligence, sexual harassment and discrimination, sexual assault and battery, aiding and abetting and other charges, in Multnomah County Court.
Conrad, 18, says she contacted US Au Pair after seeing it promote itself on its website “a ‘U.S. State Department-designated sponsor'” for au pairs.
During a 2-month process that included meetings with the defendants’ partner in Germany, Munich Au Pair, Conrad says Young told her “she had found a wonderful family, the Guptas,” for her to work with in the United States.”
Young told her that “the Gupta family had passed an extensive background check,” and that “the Gupta family had had a few au pairs working with them in the past, there had been no problems reported, and the au pairs had enjoyed their experience of working for the Gupta family,” according to the complaint.
But Conrad says the latter statement is a lie, and Young should have known it – that US Au Pair had provided two other au pairs to the Guptas, both of whom were subjected to sexual advances by the father, Ashish Gupta.
In 2008, Conrad says, Gupta asked a German au pair “to send him a photo of herself wearing a bikini” before she arrived and “persisted in asking her about her sex life,” after she told him it was none of his business. Gupta also rubbed her bare thigh, “inappropriately” fondled her and prohibited her from attending school, which was one of the main reasons she came to the United States, according to the complaint.
This au pair “finally has to leave the Gupta home because of Mr. Gupta’s inappropriate behavior and retaliation for rebuffing his advances,” the complaint states.
In 2009 US au pair placed a young woman, also from Germany, with the Guptas. Gupta again annoyed this woman with “very inappropriate and sexually proactive conversation,” such as “when she had sex most recently, and the sexual positions she preferred,” according to the complaint.
Conrad says Gupta also asked this young woman to go with him on a business trip, and asked “to see her in a bikini. Fed up with Mr. Gupta’s inappropriate behavior and sexual advances, (the second au pair) left the Gupta home.”
When she arrived at the Guptas’ in September 2010, Conrad says, Gupta did the same things to her.
She says that “almost immediately, Ashish (‘Mr. Gupta’) began behaving in ways that made plaintiff, who at the time was only 18 years old, feel very uncomfortable.” She says Gupta made her “keep her bedroom door open at all times,” repeatedly tried to ply her with alcohol, asked her often “to dress in hot shorts or a bikini,” told her “not to change out of her pajamas in the morning,” insisted that she let him go with her to a mall, where he told her “that she had a ‘cute butt,'” then made her try on a pair of shorts, “squeezed her buttock, and said in a creepy voice, ‘this feels good.'”
At this, Conrad says, she “was shocked and pulled away,” but Gupta “undeterred, shamelessly asked plaintiff if her could ‘smack’ her buttock. Plaintiff, in horror and disbelief, loudly said no and walked away from him.”
She says Gupta continued to molest her though mid-October in his home, sexually pawing her, kissing her “suddenly” without her consent, and trying to fondle her breasts and genitals. She says his molestations made her “devastated, embarrassed” and that afterward she “cried herself to sleep.”
She said she repeatedly objected to his sexual pawings, which made Gupta “very upset, mumbling in anger under his breath.”
As she continued to resist, Conrad says, Gupta “became abusive” and “began to mistreat her.”
He told her she was doing a poor job and that he and his wife were unhappy with her, he docked her pay, made her work seven days a week, and demanded that she “clean the house, cook, and do other chores that were not part of her employment agreement,” Conrad says.
Finally, Conrad called her father in Germany, who contacted US Au Pair through its German partner agency. The next day, Conrad says, defendant Young told her to pack her bags because she was being removed from the Gupta home.
She says Young apologized for the harassment she had suffered, and promised to place her in a better home.
Shortly afterward, Conrad says, she found out about a previous au pair who had been “molested and victimized” by Gupta. Upon learning this, she says, she “felt she could no longer trust Young or US Au Pair to place her in a safe and healthy working environment,” and returned to Germany, where she suffered “a full blown emotional breakdown and became suicidal.”
Conrad demands $999,000 plus punitive damages from Young and the Lake Oswego-based business.
She is represented by Mitra Shahri.
Gupta is not named as a defendant.