The former model suing Guess founder Paul Marciano for sexual assault is allowed to continue identifying in court as a “Jane Doe” after the fashion mogul attempted to reveal her name last month.
However, the motion seeking to strip her pseudonymity was an unsubtle threat to publicly identify her, Doe alleged to The Daily Beast this week.
Doe sued Marciano and Guess Inc. this past January in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming the famed fashion designer forced her to perform oral sex on him in February 2020, after months of sexual harassment and enabling of his behavior by the company he founded. Marciano and Guess both denied the claims.
Months later, Doe claimed Marciano attempted to “silence” her by filing a motion to move her case into private arbitration. In the filing, which successfully pushed the complaint behind closed doors, Marciano and Guess argued that Doe should be required to use her real name while also seemingly threatening to reveal her identity if the case did not go into arbitration. (The Daily Beast has confirmed Doe’s identity but generally does not name alleged victims of sexual misconduct without their consent.)
And in October, Marciano’s legal team once again pushed to reveal the plaintiff's identity, filing a motion to strike her use of the “Jane Doe” pseudonym. The woman is not “legally entitled” to such protections, Marciano argued, and her lawyer Lisa Bloom’s efforts to publicly solicit more witnesses and allegations backing Doe’s claims “have made it clear that Claimant isn’t interested in privacy at all,” the defense added.
“Mr. Marciano has suffered real prejudice from Claimant’s refusal to identify herself publicly—and he continues to be harmed by her insisting on proceeding pseudonymously,” the Guess mogul’s lawyers wrote. “Claimant is hiding behind a pseudonym in an attempt to shield herself from public scrutiny, all while she drags Mr. Marciano’s reputation through the mud."
The arbitrator, retired Judge Patrick J. Walsh, ultimately dismissed Marciano’s motion late last month, ruling in documents obtained by The Daily Beast that the woman may continue to use the “Jane Doe” pseudonym in arbitration but that Marciano may disclose her name to potential witnesses in the course of “pursuing leads” and defending his case.
As such, Marciano is not strictly forbidden from outing the woman. In effect, the court permits his defense team to reveal Doe’s identity to anyone so long as doing so is part of investigating the plaintiff and her claims against him.
Doe and her legal team viewed the motion as a not-so-veiled threat to publicly out her name: “Paul Marciano’s and Guess’ threat to name me publicly is terrifying and traumatizing to me. I have already lost so much. No woman should have to live through this,” Doe wrote in a statement to The Daily Beast. “I would like the ability to choose the right time to come out in public based on my own healing process, if ever.”
She continued: “Despite so many women accusing him of sexual assault over the years, Paul Marciano and Guess choose to fight all the women, instead of listening to our pain and protecting models. First they forced me into arbitration and now they threaten to ‘out’ me. It’s re-victimization. And designed to scare me into dropping my case.”
“It is terrifying for sexual accusers of high profile men to come forward. Only by letting them proceed anonymously and protecting their privacy do we have any hope that they will step forward,” Bloom added in a statement. “This is why in the current criminal trial of Ghislaine Maxwell accusers are allowed to use assumed names, and the court makes every effort to avoid any identifying information from being made public. It is disappointing but not surprising that Paul Marciano’s attorney has now threatened to name Jane Doe publicly.”
Representatives for Marciano and Guess declined to comment in response to this story.
The objective of having a sexual assault accuser’s name revealed would be “to cause her that stress, to get her to back down, to possibly set her up for public ostracism so she gets to a point where she doesn't go forward,” said Adrienne Lawrence, attorney and author of Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment. “Maybe she gets the point she needs personal security, maybe her children aren’t safe. All of these factors that opponents hope come into play.”
And Dr. Chloe Carmichael, a New York-based clinical psychologist who specializes in anxiety and stress disorders especially related to trauma, added that the potential for a sexual assault victim to be publicly outed could provide a new source of traumatization. “Because sexual assault often evokes a sense of degradation in the victim, many victims of sexual assault have an intense desire to keep the assault as private as possible. Sexual assault touches on the most intimate parts of a woman’s life, so it’s understandable that a woman could be very guarded about sharing her sexual trauma with the world,” she wrote. “This is compounded by the fact that salacious details are often easy fodder for gossip columns or water cooler conversations; no traumatized victim wants to subject herself to additional situations where her pain and sexuality could be further exploited for the casual interest (or worse, entertainment) of others.”
Following Doe’s lawsuit last year, several other women came forward with claims against Marciano.
As first reported by The Daily Beast, Guess model Gwen Van Meir alleged that Marciano sexually harassed her on set last year. And after seeing various news reports about the allegations against Marciano, Eileen Toal, a former employee of the mogul’s family store in Los Angeles, came forward with the claim that the Guess founder forced her to perform oral sex in 1983. And late last month, according to Radar Online, another “Jane Doe” filed a lawsuit against the embattled fashion executive alleging he forced her to have unprotected sex.
Prior to these recent claims, but after Guess paid out more than $500,000 in sexual misconduct settlements and supermodel Kate Upton had accused him of groping her, Marciano resigned from the company in 2018. He was quietly reinstated in early 2019 as chief creative officer, despite an internal probe acknowledging his “poor judgment.”