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Emily Ratajkowski Accuses Photographer Jonathan Leder of Past Sexual Assault in Powerful Essay

Emily Ratajkowski Claims Photographer Jonathan Leder Assaulted Her
Emily RatajkowskiEvan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Sharing her story. Emily Ratajkowski opened up about a 2012 photo shoot with photographer Jonathan Leder, whom she claims sexually assaulted her on the job.

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The 29-year-old model penned a thoughtful essay for Vulture posted on Tuesday, September 15, dissecting her image as a sex symbol in the public eye. As she reflected on her career, Ratajkowski recalled meeting Leder for a project at his home in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Her agent, who she had been working with for two years at the time, told her to stay the night with Leder when the shoot was over.

“When I looked up Jonathan’s work online, I saw a few fashion editorials he’d shot on film,” the Gone Girl actress recalled. “His work on Google looked celestial and pretty. Legit. I didn’t bother to investigate further. Besides, my agent was in full control of my career: I did what she told me to do, and in return, she was supposed to expand my portfolio so I could book more paid jobs and establish myself in the industry.”

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Leder picked up Ratajkowski from the train station in Woodstock, New York, and drove back to his home, where they were met by his two kids and a makeup artist. Leder offered Ratajkowski a glass of red wine, which she accepted in a “desire to seem older and wiser than I was.”

“I’d been taught that it was important to earn a reputation as hardworking and easygoing,” she wrote. “‘You never know who they’ll be shooting with next!’ my agent would remind me.”

Ratajkowski said she posed for a few photos in “old-fashioned lingerie” that Leder had set out for her before he allegedly told her to take off her clothes.

“I’d been shot nude a handful of times before, always by men. I’d been told by plenty of photographers and agents that my body was one of the things that made me stand out among my peers. My body felt like a superpower,” she continued. “Still, though, the second I dropped my clothes, a part of me disassociated. I began to float outside of myself, watching as I climbed back onto the bed. … The next thing I remember is being in the dark.”

The two sat on Leder’s couch after the makeup artist left the room, she said. Ratajkowski described her alleged assault as a “blur,” claiming that she didn’t remember much “except for the feeling” of “his fingers suddenly being inside of me.” After falling asleep “sore and fragile,” she returned to the city. Years later, “revealing and vulgar” photos from her shoot with Leder were published in a book. Ratajkowski sent a cease-and-desist to the photographer and his team, claiming that she had “never signed” a release at the time.

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Following the Welcome Home star’s lengthy exposé, a rep for Leder’s Imperial Publishing told the New York Post‘s Page Six that they were “deeply disturbed” by her “latest (false) statements” and said Leder “totally denies her outrageous allegations.”

If you or anyone you know has been sexually abused, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing, recovering and more.

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