New York, NY- Celebrity photographer Terry Richardson likes pushing the envelope of sexuality in his infamous photographs of models and celebrities. But some of his subjects have suggested that Richardson not only pushes the envelope but he is a sexual predator and serial harasser, allegations of which he denied in a New Yorker magazine article which hit the stands today.
The in-depth New Yorker piece delves deeply into the Richardson’s personal life and his tough beginnings before getting to the subject of the repeated sexual harassment claims. Although he is enjoys the “sleazy” moniker and the photo shots that border on pornography, he denies he sexually harassed any of his former models, telling New York magazine, “people do things, and then they have regrets, and that’s also nothing to do with me.”
In addition, to losing contracts from some big name publications like W and Vogue and stores like H&M, he has faced lawsuits.
Sexual harassment allegations against Richardson began to surface in 2010 when model Jaimie Peck came forward saying that during her first shoot with Richardson where she agreed to pose naked everything was fine but things got weird the second time. She told Jezebel that she didn’t want to pose nude in the second session because she was ovulating. Richardson was undaunted and went so far as to ask her to remove her tampon. Peck said the next thing she knows Richardson is nude and asking her to grab his penis for the shoot.
Since Peck first came forward there have been a flood of accusations from a handful of Richardson’s female models, some with big names some without.
Supermodel Rie Rasmussen also accused Richardson of sexually harassing younger models and in March of this year former model Charlotte Waters said in one troubling photo shoot in 2009 he licked her bare buttocks and asked her to squeeze his balls. Canadian model Liskula Cohen said she walked away from a shoot after the photographer’s demands became more and more explicit, according to the Daily Mail.
Richardson is known to get nude while shooting because he believes it helps his subjects feel more relaxed and comfortable with their bodies, according to Buzzfeed. His assistant, Alex Bolotow, who appeared in a very explicit spread said Richardson has a big penis so “once the world notices that, it’s kind of encouraging to continue taking your clothes off.” But is he taking things too far to get the shots he wants?
He told New York magazine he couldn’t have sexually harassed the women because it is never just him and the girl alone, “It was always assistants, or other people around, or girls brought friends over to hang out.”
In the past he has described the allegations as a “witch hunt,” and says he never coerced anyone into do something they didn’t want to do. Others disagree and say that photography agents send girls on shoots billing Richardson as an important person to impress so they feel pressured to do whatever he asks.
Sexual harassment attorneys are all too familiar with the role power plays in harassment and know that people with power are willing to use it to convince people to do something they wouldn’t normally feel comfortable with.