Former Model Files Complaint Against Photographer Terry Richardson

The former model Minerva Portillo filed a complaint against fashion photographer Terry Richardson and the now-shuttered Trump Model Management alleging battery, emotional distress, negligence and gender-motivated violence.

Now based in Spain, Portillo claimed the incidents took place in 2004, during a two-day shoot with Richardson in his New York studio. The then 22-year-old had been booked by Trump Model Management (which closed in 2017 and was disbanded last year).

Representatives from the former company, including former executive Annie Veltri, who is named in the complaint, could not be reached Wednesday.

Richardson did not respond to requests for comment, nor did his agent at Art Partner.

Richardson has worked in fashion photography and portraiture for decades, and has shot campaigns for Supreme, Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint Laurent and other leading brands, as well as done editorial work for Vogue, Vice, Vanity Fair, i-D and other media outlets. Richardson has been accused of sexual misconduct before, and Condé Nast stopped working with the photographer in 2017 due to other allegations.

Back then, a representative for Richardson told WWD that he had “previously addressed these old stories. He is an artist who has been known for his sexually explicit work, so many of his professional interactions with subjects were sexual and explicit in nature, but all of the subjects of his work participated consensually.”

Portillo’s legal action requesting a jury trial was taken days before the New York Adult Survivors Act was set to expire on Thursday. Signed last November by Governor Kathy Hochul, that legislation provided a one-year look-back window for survivors of sexual assault that occurred when they were 18 or older to sue their abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred.

In the filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Portillo alleged that she had been given a beverage that had contained an intoxicating or narcotic substance. After taking a few photos, she alleged that Richardson joined her on the set and sexually assaulted her in front of his employees who photographed the photographer and model. Portillo’s accusations included that he groped her breasts and forced her to perform oral sex on him.

Afterward, one of Richardson’s employees directed Portillo to sign a release for the photographs that falsely stated that the photographs taken “do not depict actual sexually explicit conduct,” according to the filing. In the 25-page filing, Portillo claimed to have not known what she was signing, since English is not her primary language.

The complaint alleges that Portillo tried to cancel the second day of the shoot, but Trump Model Management “insisted” that she go. The model claimed that she was forced to perform oral sex on Richardson again on set, while his employees photographed them. Images from that shoot were said to have been featured in an exhibition of his work “Terry Richardson: Terryworld” a few months later. She also claimed that some of the sexually explicit photographs of her were featured in Richardson’s 2006 Damiani-published book “Kibosh,” which he described as “the most important book” of his career, and that some of images of her alleged assault had been posted online.

A spokesperson for the law firm representing Portillo said she could not be reached immediately Wednesday.

The former model said the publication of the photographs “forever altered” her modeling career, and that Trump Model Management stopped booking her, according to the filing. She is seeking a permanent injunction against Richardson, and any and all persons acting in concert with him, from any further use of the images. The former model, who now works as a stylist, is requesting compensatory and punitive damages, among other demands.

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