Suit accuses American Apparel founder of sex abuse

AP News
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Posted: Mar 09, 2011 6:29 PM
Suit accuses American Apparel founder of sex abuse

A former worker at an American Apparel store in New York has accused the company's founder of sexually abusing her when she was 18 years old.

Irene Morales, of Brooklyn, claims in the suit that Dov Charney forced her into sex and essentially held her prisoner for hours after she visited his Manhattan apartment in 2008. It said the incident was the culmination of sexual advances he had been making since she was 17, and first began working as a sales clerk while attending high school.

Morales never went to police and the suit says she continued to have a relationship with Charney, even visiting him in Los Angeles. But it says there were additional instances in which she was pressured into sex, tormented or harassed.

The suit, filed March 4, was first reported Tuesday by the New York Post and New York Daily News. It seeks $260 million.

American Apparel said it expected the lawsuit to be tossed out because Morales signed something when she left the company agreeing not to sue, and to have any disputes settled in arbitration. A company lawyer also noted that when Morales quit, she gave the company a "letter of gratitude" for her positive experiences.

Asked why Morales, now 20, didn't quit immediately and go to the police, her lawyer, Eric Baum, told the Daily News that she was young, ashamed of what had happened and needed her job.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault unless they consent or decide to tell their stories publicly.

The lawsuit is the latest in a string accusing Charney of inappropriate sexual conduct with female employees. In interviews, he has acknowledged having sexual relationships with female workers, but said they were consensual.