A woman who claims she was raped at the New York home of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein by Leon Black, co-founder of US investment group Apollo Global Management, has sued the former executive and Epstein’s estate in a court of Manhattan.
Lawyers for Cheri Pierson allege she was recruited by Epstein’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell while working as a receptionist some time in 2000 and initially employed as a masseuse, before being assaulted by Epstein’s friend Black in 2002. Maxwell was sentenced in June to 20 years in prison for helping Epstein abuse minors.
In a 30-page complaint filed in Manhattan state court, Pierson’s attorneys said she suffered “severe and debilitating pain,” and because she “did not have medical insurance, she had to deal with the physical consequences of what [Black] had done.” They allege that Black arranged to meet Pierson, then a single mother, at a New York hotel and paid her $5,000 in cash.
A lawyer for Black, Susan Estrich, said the latest allegations against her client “are categorically false and part of a scheme to . . . destroy his reputation.”
The lawsuit opens a new front in a long legal battle between Black and the law firm Wigdor, which is representing Pierson in the lawsuit filed on Monday, and is also suing Black on behalf of his ex-mistress Guzel Ganieva.
Black accused Wigdor of abusing the legal process to publish false sexual assault allegations in an attempt to extort money and destroy his reputation. In a defamation suit filed against the law firm last month, Black’s lawyers wrote, “This case is the epitome of how the #MeToo movement can be misused and abused.”
“This serial abuse of the judicial process cannot last,” Estrich said Monday. “We intend to dismiss these baseless claims and pursue all our remedies to hold the Wigdor firm legally responsible for its misconduct and misuse of the courts.”
Black stepped down from his role at Apollo in 2021, after a company-commissioned investigation found he had made far larger payments than Epstein had previously known.
Dechert’s lawyers, who conducted the investigation, concluded that Black paid Epstein $158 million for tax advice and other professional services after Epstein was convicted in 2008 of soliciting sex from a man. minor. Epstein was charged with federal sex trafficking in 2019 and died by suicide in his New York cell a few weeks later.
Pierson’s lawsuit is one of the first to be filed under New York state’s Adult Survivor Law, which allows people to file sexual assault claims even if the statute of limitations has expired. Last week, a former journalist sued Donald Trump under the new law, alleging the former president violated it in the mid-1990s. He has denied the allegations.
“With the passage of the Adult Survivors Act, survivors of sexual violence like our client Ms. Pierson can seek the justice they deserve, no matter how many years they have suffered,” said Jeanne Christensen, lawyer at Wigdor who represents her. .
“We look forward to holding the estate of Black and Epstein accountable for their appalling unlawful conduct, as alleged in our client’s complaint,” Christensen added.