Guess founder Paul Marciano is facing a new lawsuit over allegations he sexually assaulted a model who wishes to remain anonymous. Claims include quid pro quo sexual harassment, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment, according to The Fashion Law.
“Jane Doe” claimed Marciano, who serves as the brand’s founder, board member and chief creative officer, sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions. According to the allegations, it began when Marciano inappropriately touched her after a photoshoot in September 2017. Doe alleged that he repeatedly asked her for topless photos via WhatsApp following the shoot, while regularly “dangling career opportunities to keep her quiet.”
Then in February last year, Doe claimed Marciano forced her to perform oral sex on him during what she thought would be a meeting to discuss new career opportunities. She claimed Guess’ human resources was uncooperative when she filed a written complaint months later, stating that they instead proceeded to offer her more work in a separate meeting that followed.
She was then replaced by another model for a scheduled shoot in what Doe considers an act of retaliation.
Similar claims were made against Marciano in 2018, when model Kate Upton accused the founder of verbal harassment and inappropriate touching when she modeled for the denim label in 2010. The accusations triggered an investigation, which resulted in settlement agreements totaling $500,000 with five individuals who had accused the founder of sexual harassment, as well as Marciano’s resignation from his role as executive chairman. However, the following year, Guess announced that Marciano would stay on as a Guess board member and chief creative officer.
According to the lawsuit, Doe said Guess not only “failed to prevent discrimination and harassment,” but also that it “created, fostered, tolerated, and condoned a work environment that was pervasively and/or severely hostile,” despite multiple relevant complaints.
In an 8-K form filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Guess stated that it is aware of the allegations and “disputes the claims fully and will vigorously defend the case in court.”
Marciano’s attorney Gary Jay Kaufman, Esq. said they view the accusations as a “shakedown that will become crystal clear when all of the facts and evidence are presented in court.”
“Mr. Marciano built Guess? from the ground up and has devoted his life to the company and the people who work there,” he said in a statement.
The allegations are just the latest of several that take aim at high-profile fashion mavericks. In December, Canadian fashion executive Peter Nygard was charged with a nine-count indictment including racketeering, sex trafficking, and related crimes arising from a decades-long pattern of criminal conduct involving at least dozens of victims in multiple countries, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Last month, multiple unidentified models claim designer Alexander Wang sexually assaulted them. No legal action, however, has been filed as of yet.