Sanford Heisler Sharp and Iuris&Factor File Lawsuit against Famed Fashion Photographer Terry Richardson and Trump Model Management LLC for Sexual Assault of Model Minerva Portillo

NEW YORK, Nov. 22, 2023 — Sanford Heisler Sharp and Iuris&Factor yesterday filed a Complaint on behalf of Spanish fashion model Minerva Portillo in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against famed fashion photographer Terry Richardson and Trump Model Management LLC, as well as shareholders of the former modeling agency.

Ms. Portillo is represented in the matter by Sanford Heisler Sharp partners Carolin Guentert (New York Office) and Christine Dunn (D.C. Office). Guentert and Dunn co-chair the firm’s Sexual Violence, Title IX, and Victims’ Rights Practice Group. Ms. Portillo is also represented by Aleix Cuadrado, an attorney at the Spanish law firm Iuris&Factor.

According to the Complaint, in 2004 Ms. Portillo was at the height of her modeling career and had just signed on with Trump Model Management LLC in New York, which booked her for two photoshoots with world-renowned photographer Terry Richardson. Ms. Portillo’s Complaint alleges that once she arrived on set, she was given a drink she believes was drugged. The Complaint goes on to detail that Mr. Richardson joined Ms. Portillo on set, undressed, and sexually assaulted her, which his employees photographed. According to the Complaint, Trump Model Management LLC insisted that Ms. Portillo attend the second photoshoot the following day, where Mr. Richardson again assaulted Ms. Portillo and his employees again photographed the assault.

The Complaint notes that Mr. Richardson did not have a valid release for the photographs depicting the assaults, yet he displayed them in an art gallery, published them in a book, and sold at least one on an art auction website. Ms. Portillo alleges in the Complaint that after these sexually explicit images of her were widely shared without her consent, her modeling career came to an abrupt end and her professional reputation was severely damaged.

“There is a difference between provocative – but consensually made – art, and sexual assault,” said Christine Dunn. “Ms. Portillo alleges that this was the latter, and Mr. Richardson did not have the rights to distribute the images.” The Complaint also explains that Ms. Portillo’s experience was not unusual; for years, Mr. Richardson has been the subject of pervasive allegations of sexual misconduct against the models he photographed.

The Lawsuit

Ms. Portillo brings this lawsuit under the New York Adult Survivors Act, which gives survivors of sexual offenses a one-year lookback window to sue their abusers regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. “This case is exactly what the Adult Survivors Act is intended for,” said Carolin Guentert. “Like many survivors of sexual assault, Ms. Portillo was not able to publicly speak about her experiences for many years. This law enables her to hold individuals and companies responsible for the trauma she endured.”

The Complaint asserts claims of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Mr. Richardson, and claims of negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress against Trump Model Management LLC and its shareholders. “What happened to Ms. Portillo was foreseeable and preventable, because she had shared her concerns about working with Mr. Richardson with Trump Model Management,” noted Aleix Cuadrado.

The Complaint also asserts claims against Terry Richardson, Trump Model Management LLC, and its shareholders under New York City’s Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law, which also gives survivors a lookback window to file their claims. The Complaint requests a jury trial.

About Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP is a national public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, San Diego, Nashville, and Baltimore. Sanford Heisler Sharp focuses on employment discrimination, Title IX, wage and hour, whistleblower, criminal/sexual violence, and financial services matters. The firm has recovered over $1 billion for its clients through many verdicts and settlements. The National Law Journal recognized Sanford Heisler Sharp as 2021 Employment Rights Firm of the Year and 2021 Human Rights Firm of the Year.

For the latest news about Sanford Heisler Sharp, visit the firm’s newsroom or follow the firm on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

If you have potential legal claims and are seeking counsel, please call 619-577-4253 or email [email protected]. Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp would like to have the opportunity to help you.

About Iuris&Factor

Iuris&Factor is a leading law firm in Spain, with thousands of clients, specializing, among other areas, in white-collar crimes and in protecting the image rights and privacy of famous personalities, as well as their physical and moral integrity. To learn more about the vision, mission, and values of Iuris&Factor, visit https://iurisfactor.com/en/home.