Earlier this month, notoriously pervy American Apparel CEO Dov Charney was sued for a quarter of a billion dollars by a former employee named Irene Morales. Her accusations of sexual harassment fit with Charney's longstanding reputation for bad behavior in the workplace. But judging by emails and text messages we've obtained, there may very well be another side to the story.
Morales claims that on her 18th birthday, in 2009, she went to Charney's L.A. home and he "dragged her to the bedroom" and forced her to perform oral sex and other sex acts for several hours. Afterwards, she says, Charney "continued to demand sexual service and communications in exchange for her continued employment at American Apparel," which caused her to suffer an emotional breakdown.
Yesterday, Baum filed a similar suit against Charney on behalf of a new client: Kimbra Lo, another former AA employee. Lo says that months after she left the company, she went to Charney's house for what she thought was a job interview; instead, she says, Charney tried to have sex with her, and take sexual photos of her. Lo alleges in her complaint that she thought Charney would "become violent" if she didn't go along with him, and that he "forced her to perform various sexual acts."
This morning, Lo and Baum appeared on the Today Show. Baum called Charney "a known sexual predator," and said that the similarity of Morales' and Lo's claims show a pattern of behavior.
But in the case of Irene Morales, at least, there's another side to the story. Several media outlets have seen emails from Morales to Charney that appear to contradict her claims. Asked about those emails on Today this morning—a clip is above—Baum said: "There were certain emails that she was compelled or forced to send to Dov. She was being sexually harassed, and under those circumstances, had very little choice but to comply or she would lose her job."
Well, we've seen the emails. And Baum's explanation doesn't seem to fit the evidence.
You'll recall that Morales (who was on the Today show herself last week) said that she was sexually assaulted by Charney in April of 2009. Here are a few of the texts and emails from Morales to Dov Charney. A few notes:
Morales claimed in her lawsuit that "Mr Charney allegedly gave Miss Morales a 'large dildo sex toy' and was 'induced' to visit her employer's Los Angeles home in the summer of last year where 'she was subjected to extreme psychological abuse and torment.'" Here is a text from June 29 from her saying "I bought a fat dildo." A few days later, she texts and asks him for $450.
The following week, she texts Charney twice begging for a job. She was therefore not employed at AA at this time, and therefore not subject to threats about losing her job if she didn't sexually service Dov Charney.
Also in July of 2009, she emails Charney a "birthday wishlist" of clothes that she wants, and adds: "do it for all those delicious blowjobs I would give you, and how I would lick your little asshole clean!!! And how I would love to do it again when I see you!"
In February of 2010, she sends Charney another wish list, and asks him to wire money to her.
Still, facts are facts. When suing Dov Charney for $250 million, speaking to all of the city's tabloids about it, and going on the Today show, it would be best to ensure that one's story lines up with the available evidence.
We have a call in to Eric Baum for comment, and we'll update with his response. If he or anyone else has more evidence to share in this case—on either side—we'd love to see it.
[Photo of Charney via Getty Images]