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Another high-profile name has come up in the avalanche of sexual misconduct reports that have followed the Harvey Weinstein allegations: Bruce Weber, one of fashion's most legendary photographers, has been accused by male model Jason Boyce of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed Friday in the New York State Supreme Court, which the New York Post was first to report.
The filing, which Fashionista has obtained, alleges that, during a photo shoot in 2014 at Weber's Manhattan studio, Weber pressured Boyce to remove his clothes (even though he hadn't agreed to pose nude), rub his own genitals, touch Weber's, and that Weber put Boyce's fingers in his (Weber's) mouth. Prior to the shoot, Boyce was allegedly told by his agent Jason Kanner, who is also named in the suit along with Soul Artist Management, that he needed to "nail this," given Weber's prominence in the industry. During the shoot, Weber allegedly said to Boyce, "If you just had confidence, you’d go really far," and, "How far do you want to make it? How ambitious are you?" Weber also allegedly forcefully kissed him before he left. The incident is said to have taken place when Boyce was 28 and the complaint notes that Weber is approximately 40 years older than Boyce.
The complaint states that Boyce "suffered humiliation, emotional anguish and lost economic opportunities, including the end of his modeling career in New York" as a result of Weber's action. "Mr. Boyce felt intense dread at the thought of a modeling career in an industry where Mr. Weber was considered by many to be a top photographer and primary champion of male models," it also states. "He was worried that he would continue to run into Mr. Weber throughout his career. He experienced anxiety, depression, and high levels of stress." He moved to California in 2015 where he now resides. The complaint also alleges that, "Upon information and belief, Mr. Weber has engaged in similar conduct with other male models."
Weber, of course, is not the first fashion photographer to be called out for sexual misconduct. Terry Richardson has been publicly accused of sexual abuse in "professional" settings by numerous models over the years, and in the wake of the Weinstein scandal, several publications and brands announced decisions to stop working with him, including Conde Nast International, Hearst, The Wall Street Journal's WSJ and Valentino.
Considered the pre-eminent all-American fashion photographer of our time, Weber's clients have included the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Vogue and many more.
UPDATE, Tuesday, Dec. 5:
A second male model has come forward with claims of sexual misconduct against Weber. Mark Ricketson, 31, was joined by original accuser Jason Boyce during a press conference on Tuesday at the office of Lisa Bloom, Boyce's lawyer. In video footage of the conference, via TMZ, both victims recount their (relatively similar) experiences. Like Boyce, Ricketson, 18 at the time, says he was asked to engage in what he calls a "breathing exercise" during a casting:
He told me I 'looked tense' and proceeded to press his thumb on my forehead. He then took my hand and told me to 'find the energy' by guiding my hand and rubbing it on one of three places — my forehead, chest or my stomach. Each time the 'energy' in my stomach would get lower and lower until I had to navigate the remaining space left before having to touch myself. I felt ashamed and embarrassed.
He says he's kept quiet since the incident because he felt that if he protested or refused he would be "blacklisted — not just from the shoot but likely from our agency."
Bloom notes that she has "spoken to many models who are terrified to speak out about abusive behavior or even sexual assault because they believed that their careers would be ruined if they did." Ricketson is not suing Weber because the statute of limitations has run out.
Also this week, Vanity Fair reportedly cancelled a planned Bruce Weber event.
UPDATE, Wednesday, Jan. 3: In his first public response to the allegations detailed above, Weber posted the following statement to Instagram, denying them "unequivocally" with plans to "vigorously" defend himself: