For four years, fashion photographer Terry Richardson has been accused of being a sex offender and predator—a scandalous narrative that has escalated in the past nine months, smearing the notoriously pervy photog’s already questionable reputation.
Now Richardson has told his side of the story to New York magazine. It’s a lengthy and thorough feature, but writer Benjamin Wallace gives short shrift to the two lawsuits he uncovered, both filed in 2005 in California, alleging that Richardson is, well, a scumbag. In the first suit, Romanian model Gabriela Johansson accused Richardson of publishing nude photographs of her without her consent. (She claimed she only agreed to be in a “test shoot.”) Johansson sought $1 million in damages for fraud, invasion of privacy, misappropriation, breach of contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Frank “Speedy” Lopera filed a similar suit alleging he was deceived by Richardson.
Both suits have since been settled, and the complaints were published in full for the first time on BuzzFeed late Monday. Below, the allegations that New York glossed over.
Richardson disguised model consent forms as “sign-in” papers for a topless shoot.
Johansson says she filled out “sign-in” papers upon arriving at the Chateau Marmont with several other models from her agency for what she thought was a topless “test shoot”—one that would be used “solely for casting purposes,” according to the complaint, filed in May 2005. Johansson says she was never given a copy of the papers she signed, which were “actually an alleged full model release…” The photographer misled Johansson, “a non-native English speaking model,” to think that any photos from the topless, semi-nude shoot would be used for casting, according to the complaint. The photographs were published on Richardson’s website in the fall of 2004, and “one or more” was later displayed without Johansson’s consent in a “traveling world-wide exhibition” for the photographer’s “own commercial gain.”
Richardson pushed “aggressively” for Johansson to get fully nude; she felt “extremely uncomfortable.”
Johansson had only agreed to doff her top on camera, but as soon as Richardson began shooting, he asked her to reveal more “and then ultimately pushed aggressively for her to pull down her bottoms,” according to the complaint. Johansson quickly became “extremely uncomfortable” with the poses Richardson was requesting and finally walked out of the “Casting Session,” the complaint alleges.
Frank “Speedy” Lopera was 17 when he visited Richardson’s home for a “test shoot” that he didn’t know would involve nudity.
In 1995 or 1996, when Lopera was not yet 18, he participated in a “test” shoot that Richardson’s team had described to him and his agent as a session “solely for the experience of both the photographer and the subject,” according to a complaint filed in November 2005. Lopera claimed he had no knowledge of the lewd nature of the shoot before arriving and then was cajoled into posing nude after telling Richardson he was “not comfortable” doing so.
Richardson told Lopera the photos would not be made public.
Richardson assured Lopera that “the pictures were not for any publication or any other public purpose,” but four of the photos taken during the shoot were indeed published in Richardson’s wildly successful pornographic Taschen book, Terryworld, according to the complaint. Lopera’s penis is visible in three of the pictures. Lopera went on to work with Richardson on fashion shoots for Levi’s, Rolling Stone, Spin, and other publications, unaware that his private parts would be splashed across the pages of Terryworld. Neither 17-year-old Lopera nor his legal guardian at the time were asked to sign a release form, the complaint alleges.