Dov Charney, the controversial founder and CEO of American Apparel, is being sued for grimy sexual abuse graver in dirty detail and larger in dollar amount than any other grimy sexual abuse he’s been accused of before. A new lawsuit from an ex-American Apparel employee seeks $260 million in damages for sexual harassment and subsequent “serious psychiatric injuries from which she will never fully recover,” according to paperwork filed last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court. This one gets ugly, but echoes situations Charney has talked to Runnin’ Scared about in the past.
The New York Daily News reports that Irene Morales, 20, engaged in “forced sex” with Charney for eight months of being “promised job advancement,” until she eventually resigned. “She was young” and “needed the job,” her lawyer said when asked why she didn’t quit earlier.
But the start of Morales’s alleged sexual encounters with Charney are the most extreme:
She alleges that in April 2008, Charney invited her to his Manhattan pad, opened the door wearing nothing but his briefs and “forced her to go down on her knees just inside the front door and perform fellatio upon him.”
He then threw her on the bed and made her repeat the same sex act, “nearly suffocating her in the process,” the suit says.
“She was then, to all intents and purposes, held prisoner in the apartment for several hours and forced to perform additional sexual acts,” the suit says.
Criminal charges have reportedly not been ruled out, but “she didn’t immediately go to the authorities because of trauma and shame.” Morales says she “suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized in 2008,” but was again offered an American Apparel job in July 2010, when she ran into Charney in Los Angeles. She declined.
The suit alleges that throughout her relationship with the company, Morales was “subjected to extreme psychological abuse and torment,” according to the New York Post.
Charney previously explained to Runnin’ Scared what he perceives as the media’s “false crusade” against his company, including previous sexual harassment lawsuits:
The sexual harassment accusations were the manifestation of a racketeering attorney [Keith Fink] who works with journalists. He feeds the media sensational stories that will grab attention. I’m accusing him of criminal racketeering.
Charney went on to call accusations that he’s a “creep” unfounded in an occasionally confusing diatribe:
It’s false testimony. There’s no credibility to that statement — I don’t feel that I’m a creep. You can’t defend it. Neither can Gawker. It’s not good for society. Martin Luther King was having affairs, but his work was too important so the media didn’t bring it up. They’re deploying sexual shame tactics — it dehumanizes the subject. Ideas are more important. I accuse you of being a creep. A large number of the plaintiffs stole from the company, or we had valid reason to want to remove them. If I’m a creep, they’re creeps. Provocative ad campaigns make sense. Who cares?
Charney was sure brush off his personal role in the company’s woes, both in business and in previous sexual harassment charges, instead focusing on the heat the company has taken for its “provocative ad campaigns” and praising his own labor practices. This time, the seriousness of the allegations, plus the looming threat of criminal charges, might be harder to ignore.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 8, 2011