The model and actor Emily Ratajkowski has accused photographer Jonathan Leder of sexually assaulting her during a photoshoot at his home in 2012, a claim he strongly denies.
Leder published a book of the photos in 2016. Ratajkowski claims this was without her consent, but Leder disputes this.
In an essay published in New York magazine on Tuesday entitled Buying Myself Back: When Does a Model Own Her Own Image?, Ratajkowski writes about the incident. She recalls that her then agent had her travel to Leder’s flat in Woodstock, New York, for an unpaid photoshoot for a magazine called Darius. The shoot required an overnight stay.
She writes that Leder “never looked at me directly” when he picked her up from the bus stop. “The more disinterested he seemed,” she says, “the more I wanted to prove myself worthy of his attention. I knew that impressing these photographers was an important part of building a good reputation.”
She says she was relieved as she arrived at his house and was greeted by two children and then later a female makeup artist arrived. But Ratajkowski was surprised to discover the shoot would be a lingerie one.
“When he laid out old-fashioned lingerie on a kitchen chair, I began to grasp what type of girl he wanted me to be,” she writes. “My agent hadn’t mentioned that the shoot would be lingerie, but I wasn’t concerned; I’d done countless lingerie shoots before.”
In an attempt to seem mature and professional, she says, Ratajkowski accepted his offer of red wine, which Leder offered her throughout the shoot.
“I’d been taught that it was important to earn a reputation as hardworking and easygoing,” she says. “‘You never know who you are going to be shooting for next!’ my agent would remind me.”
After she was photographed in lingerie, Ratjkowski claims Leder said: “Let’s try naked now.” She writes: “The second I dropped my clothes, a part of me disassociated. I began to float out of myself, watching as I climbed back onto the bed. I arched my back and pursed my lips, fixating on the idea of how I might look through his camera lens. Its flash was so bright and I’d had so much wine that giant black spots were expanding and floating in front of my eyes.”
At the end of the shoot as they looked at the photos, the makeup artist left the room. “I stiffened as her presence dissolved from the living room,” she writes. “I was upset with her for leaving me, but I didn’t want to admit to myself that her presence had made a difference.”
She then writes that he sexually assaulted her.
“Most of what came next was a blur except for the feeling. I don’t remember kissing, but I do remember his fingers suddenly being inside of me,” she says. “I brought my hand instinctively to his wrist and pulled his fingers out of me with force. I didn’t say a word.” She wrote that she “never told anyone about what happened and I tried not to think about it”. She says that she went to bed and caught the train home the next morning.
Years later, the photographs Leder took were published in a book, called Emily Ratajkowski, which Ratajkowski claims was produced without her consent. Leder disputes this claim. A second and third book were published of the outtakes, one of which was entitled Two Nights With Emily.
When contacted by Page Six, Imperial Publishing, which represents Leder, denied Ratajkowski’s allegations. “Of course Mr Leder totally denies her outrageous allegations of being ‘assaulted’,” the company said.
Imperial claimed she had made the “salacious accusations” because she had not been able to stop publication of Leder’s book.
New York magazine quotes Leder as saying that Ratajkowski’s allegations are “too tawdry and childish to respond to”.
“You do know who we are talking about, right?” he is quoted as saying. “This is the girl that was naked in Treats! magazine, and bounced around naked in the Robin Thicke video at that time. You really want someone to believe she was a victim?”
He told the Daily Mail her claims were “totally false”.