LOS ANGELES (CN) – Three women who sued American Apparel CEO Dov Charney in March say Charney retaliated by posting nude photos of them online and impersonating them in bogus blogs “in which plaintiffs supposedly admitted to a scheme of extortion and filing false sexual harassment lawsuits”.
Plaintiffs Alyssa Ferguson, Tesa Lubans DeHaven and Irene Morales, who sued Charney in March, sued him again in Superior Court, and also sued American Apparel and Kyung Chung, a photographer and supervisor at Charney’s company.
Two plaintiffs, who sought declaratory judgment that the confidentiality and arbitration agreements they signed with American Apparel were invalid, say that “blogs began surfacing on the internet as if created by Ms. Ferguson” two days after they filed their complaints. “In addition, defendants posted nude photographs of Ms. Ferguson and co-plaintiff, Ms. Morales, without their permission or authorization,” according to the complaint.
On a blog “falsely attributed to Ms. Ferguson,” the defendants allegedly wrote that Lubans “calls and invites me to join an extortion that her roommate … brewed up with some third rate lawyer from Jersey. Apparently, she was really upset that they wouldn’t hire her back and they just didn’t want to photograph her no matter how many times she begged. She said it would be real easy. Just make up a story and stick to it. I don’t even need any evidence because I’m a pure innocent girl and of course the public will take my side. Anyway, I didn’t tell anyone and just left LA for NY to PARTY. This is the USA, and if you have a lawyer working pro bono, you can sue anyone. I’m expecting my billions.”
Ferguson says she “was often forced to pose for certain suggestive photos,” which were taken by Chung, and that “many of the photographs were made contemporaneously with American Apparel company photo shoots but were outside the authorized scope of the shoot and were never intended by Ms. Ferguson to be seen publicly.”
Ferguson says the defendants also posted false statements under her nude photo and attributed them to her: “After this week long shoot in September 2010, the American Apparel people didn’t want to hire me back. Something about me being completely reckless, out of shape, not on time, hung over, unprofessional. I thought I was awesome. And then when I heard this empty house belonged to some rich guy, I was more than happy to perform.”
The women say many of the photographs appearing on the blog were taken by Chung while she worked as a photographer and manager for American Apparel.
Morales, who sued Charney for sexual harassment in New York Supreme Court on March 4, says that soon after she filed her lawsuit, the defendants impersonated her in false blogs that were attributed to her. She says those bogus blogs directed readers to the bogus blogs attributed to the other plaintiffs.
“Without her permission, defendants released her photographs as well as posted nude photographs of Ms. Morales on the blogs as if she posted them herself and gave the false impression that her sexual harassment lawsuit was for the purpose of extorting money from Charney and American Apparel,” the complaint states.
“Defendants also intentionally and maliciously caused the release of Ms. Morales’ photographs to media sources, including but not limited to the New York Post,” she says.
Morales says, “these photographs were provided to the defendants as part of on-going acts of quid pro quo sexual harassment and gender discrimination, in the belief that her employment would be terminated or discipline imposed should the demands of defendants for such photographs be refused.” She says she “never intended that such photographs be seen by any other person and provided them to defendant Charney involuntarily.”
The women say the “defendants also caused the release of plaintiffs’ photographs to media sources, including but not limited to the Los Angeles Times on March 25, 2011 and the New York Post also on March 25, 2011. The Los Angeles Times reported for example: ‘Charney and his advisors showed Times reported sexually explicit emails, photos and text messages from some of the women who sued the company this month.'”
Morales claims that Charney had forced her to send him explicit photos, emails and text messages, threatening to fire her if she did not comply.
The women say the “defendants’ conduct of making false blogs and impersonating plaintiffs in these blogs in which plaintiffs supposedly admitted to a scheme of extortion and filing false sexual harassment lawsuits against defendants constitutes defamation.”
They seek injunctions and punitive damages for impersonation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation and invasion of privacy.
They are represented by Toni Jaramilla.