Yet another lawsuit is bringing the unregulated, unprotected nature of modeling to the forefront: three young models are suing Aristeo Tengco, head of Emmanuel New York Models, for forcing them to live under "relentless and severe and pervasive sex-based hostility and fear."
According to the New York Post, 19-year-old Hayden Holt filed a suit in Manhattan Supreme Court earlier this month claiming that she was groped and intimidated by Tengco, who then witheld her payments after she fled his apartment. She had been living with several other models.
Now the New York Daily News reports that fellow models Kayla Hill and Jessica Lee, both 17, are joining the lawsuit, also alleging that Tengco touched them inappropriately and lured them in to his "model apartment" with talks of Christian values.
“He fed me a lot of speeches about Christianity and how he was really going to help me grow in my faith,” Lee told the Daily News.
Yet Holt's lawyer calls Tengco a "predator." The lawsuit details how Tengco began "rubbing her arms and legs in an unwelcome sexual manner" and would walk in on the girls when they were naked, says Lee: "I'd tell him, 'Don't come in,' but he’d come in anyway."
"He would just always have to have his hands on me. [...] I think he’s disgusting. I hate him. I want him to rot in hell."
The situation got so bad that Holt left Tengco's apartment in November; Hill and Lee followed in February.
Tengco has not released a statement in response but his lawyer, Ken Rubenstein, told the Post that Holt's claims are "wholly without merit."