Emily Ratajkowski is accusing photographer Jonathan Leder of sexual assault.
The Gone Girl actress and model, 29, made the claim in what she describes as an “extremely personal” essay “about image, power and consent,” titled “Buying Myself Back,” which was run by New York Magazine. She said that the alleged incident occurred in 2012 after a photo shoot. Leder, with whom Ratajkowski has been engaged in a longtime dispute over that shoot, denied the claim to the magazine, saying the allegation is "too tawdry and childish to respond to".
Ratajkowski wrote in the essay that her agent booked a modelling job for her, then 20, in which she would be shot by Leder and the photos would appear in Darius magazine. It would be an “unpaid editorial,” she explained, “meaning it would be printed in the magazine and the ‘exposure’ would be my reward,” a regular part of being a young model.
She traveled from New York City to Woodstock, in New York state, via bus for the shoot, and was to stay the night at the photographer’s home. When Leder picked her up, she recalled him seeming “disinterested” in her, and she admitted that led her to want to impress him, as that was “an important part of building a good reputation” — and booking more jobs.
At Leder’s home, he gave her a glass of red wine which she “drank quickly” in her nervousness, and “old-fashioned lingerie”, which she was to wear for the shoot. She drank several more glasses before the shoot began, in the bedroom. At first it was in the lingerie, before she said Leder said he’d like to shoot her nude, which she had done before.
The shoot went late into the night, the makeup artist who was with them the whole time went to bed, and at that point Ratajkowski was “very, very drunk” and just remembers being on the couch with Leder.
“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 wrote. “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 said she then went to bed, in the bedroom where the shoot began, where she “shivered uncontrollably,” adding, “I was both confused as to why Jonathan had left without a word and terrified that he would come back.” The next morning, Leder offered her coffee, not mentioning what happened, and she left on a bus back to the city.
A few of the images appeared in the magazine spread, and that was the end of it, she wrote, trying to put that experience behind her. Then, a few years later, after Gone Girl came out and she landed numerous magazine covers, she learned that Leder was putting out a book of her shoot titled Emily Ratajkowski, which contained “among the most revealing and vulgar Polaroids he had taken of me”.
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A legal battle ensued, as Ratajkowski said she only consented to the photos running in that specific magazine shoot, but Leder had a signed release from Ratajkowski’s former agent, so she ultimately gave up on what had begun to be an expensive legal fight. The book sold out and was printed three more times via a publishing company Leder co-founded. And Leder – who owns the photographs as the one who took them – released second and third books, as well as showed the photographs at galleries. He’s also given interviews just detailing the shoot.
The magazine reached out to Leder for a comment about the alleged assault, and he said her allegations were “too tawdry and childish to respond to”, adding, “You do know who we are talking about right? 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?”
Leder’s Imperial Pictures Publishing has statement on its website in which “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.” Here is the statement in its entirety:
“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.
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.
It is also not our first encounter with her wrath.
In 2016 Ms. Ratajkowski tried to stop publication of Imperial's books. She hired famed L.A. lawyer Marty Singer to send us a bullying scare tactic ‘Cease and Desist' letter.
Attached is our attorney’s response, proving that we had every legal right to publish these images.
It is disheartening to us that NY Mag would publish such a tawdry and baseless article.
We have every legal right to publish our books of Ms. Ratajkowski - despite what she tries to maintain to the press.
Ms. Ratajkowski knows that, and her lawyers know that.
She knows she has no legal recourse to stop publication, so bad mouthing the photographer ( again ) with false and salacious, baseless 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.”