Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tabloid Heaven

When I go into New York, as I did earlier this week, I always buy a newspaper to read on the train ride home.

I suppose I could pick up the Financial Times, but I don't.  I get a copy of the New York Post, a fun tabloid that is a sort of guilty pleasure.  The Post never disappoints.

"Raging Wall Street Horndog to intern's beau: "Did you f-k her?'"

Former model and Wall Street guy 
That was the front page headline the other day.  It led me to a very interesting case being tried in a federal courthouse downtown and reported in tabs from here to Britain as well as online.  What a story this is.

Here's the gist:

A 23-year-old "former model," from Sweden met a man two summers ago at his house in the Hamptons, a trendy summer redoubt for wealthy New Yorkers.

The man, a Chinese guy, is the CEO of a Wall Street/Beijing company that arranges international transactions, but I can't find evidence of any particular deals.  He claims two graduate degrees from Columbia and says he is also an investigative reporter.  His internet site, TheBlot Magazine, looks a lot like the sort of thing that would appeal to regular tabloid readers.  He also is married with children.

After their meeting, according to the former model, the Wall Street guy invited her to lunch.  Here's what she said happened:

     "He ordered wine for us.  And when we got the wine, he asked me if he could
      move over, jump over, and sit next to me  And so he did.
      "And then, well, he basically said that he wanted a girlfriend.  
      "So I told him that I was not interested. 'I think you have to keep looking because
      I'm interested in a job.  And I just can't accept your proposal.'"

One day later, he called to congratulate her for turning him down and offer her a job in his firm's Wall Street office.  She accepted.  Her title has been reported variously as intern and marketing chief.  

Then, she says, he pushed himself on her during business trips to Boston and Dubai.  In each case, he rented a single hotel room for the two of them to share.  She rejected his advances during these trips, she says.

Later, at a restaurant dinner in December 2013, he plied her with wine and presented her with a $2,000 designer handbag.  He took her home to the $3,600 Tribeca apartment he had rented for her.  

(I know several 20-somethings who work in New York; to my knowledge, none of their employers provides staff members with apartments.)

Over in Two Minutes

Then, according to her lawyer, "He has sex with her and it's over in two minutes,"  a comment that has been repeated again and again. 

The former model asserted that she had not even kissed the Wall Street guy and the experience was traumatic:

     "I felt so used and weak, and I was so ashamed that I let this happen. . . . And 
     everything that I've ever been -- strong, independent -- he just took that away from
     me. . . . He just came in the office the next day and pretended as if nothing had
     happened, as if everything was OK."

According to the woman, the executive pressured her into sex three more times over a period of three months.  She said she put up with this because she was afraid of losing her job and the nice apartment.

The Wall Street guy says the two of them never had sex.  His lawyer claims that the Wall Street guy was concerned for the woman and that he "cared."

The Other Man

During this period, the former model took another lover, a 31-year-old "club promoter" who may or may not have drug and weapons convictions on his record.  

Sometime in February 2014, the Wall Street guy went one morning to the woman's apartment, opened the door with his key and reported that he found the club promoter alone and naked in her bed.

The club promoter testified this week.  He said he was not naked but wearing shorts.  He said he had spent the night with the woman and stayed after she left for work in the morning.

He said the Wall Street guy confronted him, demanding to know, "Did you fuck her?"

According to court reports, the club promoter said this:

     "I was like, 'are you kidding me?' I think it's very extreme for you to ask me that."

Extreme or not, the Wall Street guy fired the former model and kicked her out of the apartment that afternoon.

The Wall Street Guy

Hell hath no fury like a Wall Street guy scorned.  Apparently he contacted the former model's family members and friends, accusing her of prostitution, drunkenness and drug abuse.  

She moved back to Sweden and took a job in a cafe, where the Wall Street guy appeared one day, feigning surprise.

The Wall Street guy also used his website, which bills itself as a "voice for the voiceless," to take out after the Daily News, another New York tabloid.  The site called one reporter a corrupt racist who "fabricated the contents" of an early article on the matter.

Court Case

Naturally this has gone to court.  The former model wants $850 million. 

(To put that in context, the NFL agreed this spring to a $1 billion settlement for 6,000 former football players who contracted Alzheimer's, ALS and dementia after their retirements.)

Six jurors are sitting on the case.  For them, I see pluses and minuses

On the plus side, this is much more interesting than another one of the many slip-and-fall claims against the city.

On the minus side, how can the jurors tell who is telling the truth here, or indeed if anyone is telling the truth?  

For tabloids from New York to the UK, the story is golden for as long as the trial runs. 

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