Victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking ring are getting the chance to go after their alleged abusers and their enablers thanks to New York’s Adult Survivors Act, a new law that gives sexual assault victims a one-year window to sue even after the statute of limitations has expired.
A woman has accused billionaire Leon Black of raping her two decades ago in Epstein’s Manhattan mansion. Black is the co-founder of private equity firm Apollo Global Management Inc (NYSE: APO).
Cheri Pierson alleges that the billionaire, who was introduced to her by Epstein, physically overwhelmed her without her consent and caused “excruciating pain.” Pierson, who was at the time a cash-strapped single mother, had initially been commissioned by Epstein to give Black a massage for $300.
She said that when they were introduced, Epstein had described Black as someone who could “help” her, implying her financial needs. Pierson also said that Black began calling her after the alleged incident at Epstein’s mansion, saying that he felt “bad” and that he “wanted to talk.”
Pierson then met her at a bar in the St. Regis Hotel where Black gave her $5,000, in the guise of helping her with her credit card debt. She said that he had called her again later asking to see her but she refused.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Black for sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and from Epstein’s estate for negligence. She is being represented by Wigdor LLP, the same firm representing Guzel Ganieva, a former model who sued Black for defamation in June 2021, saying that he falsely claimed that she tried to extort him after accusing him of rape.
Susan Estrich, a lawyer for Black, said that the suit is “categorically false and part of a scheme to extort money from Mr. Black by threatening to destroy his reputation … We intend to defeat these baseless claims.”
In a November 19 letter to the Wigdor firm, Estrich said that “Mr. Black never sexually assaulted anyone anywhere at any time,” adding that he may sue for defamation or seek sanctions if Pierson proceeds with the lawsuit.
An earlier investigation into the relationship between Epstein and Black saw that Black paid Epstein $158 million between 2012 and 2017 for advisory services — well after Epstein pleaded guilty to felony charges for soliciting an underage prostitute.
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