Wildfox CEO Accused of Forcing Minor to Trade Sex for Work
STORY BY Emily Kirkpatrick
Published: September 14, 2013
Earlier this week, allegations were leveraged by Meghan Chereek against Jimmy Sommers, the 43-year-old CEO of Wildfox Couture, claiming that the executive promised the then seventeen-year-old aspiring model a contract and starring role in his Wildfox campaigns in exchange for coerced sexual favors.
According to Chereek, after falling out with her family around the age of seventeen, she began to try earning money on her own through modeling and selling her artwork. In July 2012, she was introduced to Sommers who offered her a tentative modeling contract with his brand. Sommer also offered to let her stay in the spare bedroom in his house and later, while she was drunk on alcohol he supplied, initiated unwanted sexual contact. And that was only the beginning, according to the New York Daily News, “In the months that follows, Sommers repeatedly forced her to engage in oral sex and intercourse, all the while holding over the promise of modeling for the Wildfox brand.” Chereek also claims that Sommers provided her with more alcohol, cocaine and marijuana than she could handle. According to the lawsuit, “He regularly demanded that she engage in sexual contact with him to which demands she submitted based upon her fear of him and her desire to establish a career as a model,”
Chereek is officially charging Sommers with unlawful sex with a minor, unlawful oral sex with a minor, gender violence against a young woman, amongst numerous other charges. Additionally, she is seeking unspecified damages for mental and emotional suffering, injuries, trauma, shame, humiliation, and payment for both past and future therapy and counseling expenses.
These charges are deeply troubling, but also, unfortunately, a story that’s been around for as long as the fashion industry has. This is by no means the first accusation of a powerful man in fashion taking advantage of and exploiting a young, usually underage, model and it will certainly not be the last. However, with the passing of recent Model Alliance initiatives and the slow but steady cracking down on some of the industry's worst practices, one can only hope that the seedy sexual manipulation and abuse of underage girls is next bad habit to go.
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