On Friday, ex-model Jason Boyce filed a suit against Bruce Weber in the New York Supreme Court alleging the hugely prolific fashion photographer sexually harassed the male model in December of 2014. The suit was filed on behalf of Boyce by civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom who is notable for high profile cases involving accusers of Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby and John Coyers, and also for her controversial representation of Harvey Weinstein until dropping him in October. Since the publicizing of Boyce’s suit, 31-year-old Mark Ricketson has also spoken out, further alleging he too was a victim of sexually misconduct at the age of 18 by Weber in 2005, in a similar fashion. Bloom noted prosecution is not possible in Ricketson’s case because it is time-barred.
In the suit, as reported first by the NY Post on December 1st, Boyce, then 28, alleges Weber, then 68, sexually harassed him during a test shoot: He had Boyce remove his underwear after taking photographs of him. Weber claimed he was “tense” which led to him instructing, “Mr. Boyce to put his hands on himself, ‘wherever you feel your energy go,’” NY Post wrote, citing court papers. “Mr. Weber grabbed Mr. Boyce’s arm, and moved it back and forth, so that Mr. Boyce was forced to rub his own genitals,” the article continued. After which the photographer is alleged to put his own fingers in the model’s mouth, move Boyce’s hand to his own groin and allegedly ask, “How ambitious are you?” The suit claims that no response from Boyce prompted Weber to conclude the episode, but not before, “Weber allegedly grabbed him and kissed him on the lips,” NY Post wrote, again citing the filing. The original article reported Boyce texting his agent at the time, Jason Kanner of Soul Artist Management, and mentioned the interaction being quote “weird”. Reportedly, the suit additionally claims, “Upon information and belief, Mr. Weber has engaged in similar conduct with other male models referred to him by Mr. Kanner and Soul Artist, and Mr. Kanner and Soul Artist are aware of such conduct.” Defendants in the case are Bruce Weber and his Little Bear Inc., Jason Kanner and Soul Artist Management.
Ricketson’s alleged story is much alike in that Weber tells the model he looked “tense” and “pressed his thumb on my forehead,” Ricketson said in a press conference, joined by Jason Boyce at The Bloom Firm, continuing, “He told me to find the energy by guiding my hand in one of three places: my forehead, my chest, or my stomach. Each time the energy in my stomach would get lower and lower until I had to navigate the remaining space before having to touch myself. I felt ashamed and embarrassed.”
In the same press conference Bloom gave a statement saying, “The modeling industry is long overdue for accountability in its exploitation of models who too often are at the mercy of powerful agents, agencies and photographers. In the course of investigating this case I have spoken to many who are terrified to speak out about abusive behavior or even sexual assault because they believe their careers would be ruined if they did. Others have told me that they left the business entirely because of the high level of exploitation of models. Some have said they thought that being groped or harassed was just part of the business, but it is not.” She would go on to say, “Many others have reached out to me with similar stories about Bruce Weber in the last few days,” encouraging individuals to reach out.
Boyce, now an actor and fitness coach living in Los Angeles, posted to his Instagram this personal statement:
Update January 2018:
Bruce Weber has responded to the allegations on his Instagram:
I want to address the recent allegations made against me. I unequivocally deny these charges and will vigorously defend myself. I have spent my career capturing the human spirit through photographs and am confident that, in due time, the truth will prevail. I am grateful for the outpouring of support I have received. -Bruce Weber