Emily Ratajkowski has accused photographer Jonathan Leder of sexually assaulting her during a photo shoot at his Catskills home in 2012 — claims he strongly denies.
In a lengthy essay for NY mag published Tuesday, the 29-year-old model and actress wrote that her then-agent had her travel to Leder’s upstate home for an unpaid photo shoot for a magazine called Darius that required an overnight stay.
Then an unknown 20-year-old model, Ratajkowski writes that upon arriving at Leder’s home, she was surprised to discover she would be modeling lingerie. In an attempt to appear mature, she accepted the red wine he offered her throughout the evening.
“I’d been taught that it was important to earn a reputation as hardworking and easygoing,” she wrote. “‘You never know who they’ll be shooting with next!’ my agent would remind me.”
After being photographed in lingerie, Ratajkowski claims, Leder said, “Let’s try naked now.”
“The second I dropped my clothes, a part of me disassociated,” she wrote. “I began to float outside 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.”
Later, when the makeup artist who was present for the shoot went to bed, Ratajkowski said, she felt wide awake but “very, very drunk.” She writes that she and Leder were huddled under a blanket on the couch when he started asking her about her boyfriends and watched as she rubbed her feet together to keep them warm.
“He told me he liked ‘that foot thing you’re doing,’ and I remember this moment more clearly than anything else,” she wrote. “I hate that Jonathan commented on something I’ve done throughout my life to comfort myself.”
“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 claims. “Harder and harder and pushing and pushing like no one had touched me before or has touched me since. I could feel the shape of myself and my ridges, and it really, really hurt. I brought my hand instinctively to his wrist and pulled his fingers out of me with force. I didn’t say a word. He stood up abruptly and scurried silently into the darkness up the stairs.”
Ratajkowski writes that she went to bed and caught a train home the next morning.
Years later, the photos Leder took were published in a book, although Ratajkowski claims Leder and Imperial Publishing had no right to use the images. At the time, a lawyer sent cease-and-desist letters to the book’s publisher, Imperial Publishing, and an art gallery planning to hold an exhibition of the photos.
A rep for Imperial Publishing, which represents Leder, emphatically denied Ratajkowski’s claims to Page Six on Tuesday.
“We are all deeply disturbed to read Ms. Ratajkowski’s latest (false) statements to NY Mag in her never-ending search for press and publicity,” the rep said. “Of course Mr. Leder totally denies her outrageous allegations of being ‘assaulted.’ It is grotesque and sad that she is so vindictive to lie in such a way to the press routinely.”
Ratajkowski steadfastly maintains that she didn’t even sign a release for the photos and neither did her agent. Leder claims there was a release contract signed. Ratajkowski claims that, in the end, her attorney advised her against pursuing a lawsuit because it would be “fruitless” and outrageously expensive.
Leder’s rep, however, says, “She knows she has no legal recourse to stop publication, so bad mouthing the photographer (again) with salacious accusations seems to be her newfound answer.
“It is a shame, because the photos are really powerful and they are beloved by so many of her fans.”
Page Six was unable to get in touch with Darius magazine.
By Nicki Gostin