Terry Richardson Responds to Allegations, Calls The Whole Thing a ‘Witch Hunt’


The Terry Richardson debate can be summed up in two sayings, one used by the anti-Richardson army and the other used by the pro-Richardson crowd: “There’s no smoke without a fire” and “Tried and convicted in the press.” That many allegations can’t just spring up out of nowhere, says one group, while the other argues that undue amounts of sensational press attention does not evidence make.

However, for the first time ever, Richardson himself is speaking out, addressing the Allegations in an op-ed published by the Huffington Post in which he calls the entire ordeal an “emotionally-charged witch hunt.”

The response is published in full on the Huffington Post, but we’ve included some of the more relevant sections below:

Four years ago, I chose to primarily ignore a cycle of Internet gossip and false accusations against me. At that time, I felt that to dignify them with a response was a betrayal of my work and my character. When these allegations resurfaced over the past few months, they seemed especially vicious and distorted, moving outside the realm of critical dialogue and becoming nothing more than an emotionally-charged witch hunt… In writing this, I make a humble attempt at correcting these rumors, because I have come to realize that absent my voice in the conversation, all that remain are the lies.


I have never used an offer of work or a threat of rebuke to coerce someone into something that they did not want to do. I give everyone that I work with enough respect to view them as having ownership of their free will and making their decisions accordingly, and as such, it has been difficult to see myself as a target of revisionist history. Sadly, in the on-going quest for controversy-generated page views, sloppy journalism fueled by sensationalized, malicious, and manipulative recountings of this work has given rise to angry Internet crusades. Well-intentioned or not, they are based on lies. Believing such rumors at face value does a disservice not only to the spirit of artistic endeavor, but most importantly, to the real victims of exploitation and abuse.

He goes on to say that he realizes the nature of his work invites controversy, and he even welcomes that controversy. He just asks that “whether you love my work or hate it, you give it, and me, the benefit of the truth.”

Sadly, we’ll probably never know what that “truth” is. It’s Richardson and his supporters’ word against that of his accusers, and without concrete evidence or testimony by the assistants who were allegedly there and saw these things happen, that’s all it’ll ever be.

Where do you land in this debate? Does Richardson’s response change your mind or temper your opinion of him, or is he just ‘playing the victim’ as some of our readers have put it? Let us know in the comments.

Correcting the Rumors [Huffington Post]

Image credits: Courtney Love with Terry Richardson by Theeditor93

  • Stan B.

    1) “Armstrong is a bad example.”

    2) “…that was a lame example…”

    I can’t make a sound argument!?! Hate to break it to ya, but automatic dismissals don’t prove anyone right, or bolster their argument- just like it doesn’t prove Terry right when he does it.

    Bullying your way through to make your point may work in your mind, and maybe, just maybe, in those of certain… 19 yrs olds.

  • csmif

    no. i don’t suppose that at all. the dude is just a creep

  • Theo Lubbe

    Whether he is or not is besides the point, you won’t right a wrong in committing another wrong by way of laying false allegations against someone in order to try and benefit from it.

    For a loose analogy, take as example a kid in a school who’s been accused by some kids of being rude to them. Some of these kids may well have been treated unkindly by the kid, but you can bet there are going to be kids who see a trend of this kid being a scapegoat and try to get in on that so they can get in with the crowd that’s against the kid. The benefit they derive is easier inclusion in a group they may want to join but would otherwise have little chance of doing.

    In such a sense, some of these models may well be laying false allegations against Richardson in hopes the numerous other claims may validate their false claims somehow, hoping to either garner some attention from the media for themselves (playing the victim) or even seek an out of court settlement so they won’t kick up a smear campaign or the like against him.

    As I said in one of my other replies, nobody can deny he gets touchy and has engaged in sexual acts with people he’s done shoots with – he doesn’t deny and to some extent even proudly uploads footage (photo/video) of such events. What I’ve never seen any one of these models do is provide evidence of what led to that occurrence, and it’s now practically common knowledge that he may ‘come onto’ attractive female models, yet people keep seeking his services? Why are they not taking the time to protect themselves by ensuring they have video footage of the entire day’s shoot, so that if they’re in any way ‘made’ to do something they don’t want to they can back their allegations up?

  • Tarla Walton

    Regardless of what you think about Terry Richardson, the fact the victim blaming is the knee-jerk reaction of SO MANY supposedly intelligent individuals is disgusting.

    Say you’re a young girl trying to get into an industry that is tremendously difficult to get into. You get a job with someone who is not only working in that industry, but is a substantial name in that industry. This could be your big break! You show up; you’re super nervous, but you’ve done this kind of work before so you think you know at least the basic outline of how things will go. Besides, this guy is a professional! He’s been published in all the magazines you dream of being in! And he has an assistant with him! Surely, this is all normal and that weird feeling of discomfort is just nerves.

    Then things start to get weird. He sticks his thumb in your mouth. You don’t like it, but he’s acting like this is totally normal. His assistant is acting like it’s totally normal. He’s confident and smiley, you’re cringing inside and taking note of the exits. Things escalate slowly. If you raise a fuss, he could cancel the shoot. He could send you away. He could tell others not to hire you. So, you deal with it. Then it gets worse, but everyone around you is still acting like it’s totally standard behavior. You want to leave, but you’re afraid. You have no experience with anything like this before, you don’t know what to do. So, you do what countless young individuals before you have done; suffer through it, just waiting for it to end.

    You get home. You feel dirty. It takes a while, but you finally talk to someone about it. And finally, if you’re lucky, that person justifies the disgusting feeling you’ve had since that incident. What happened wasn’t okay. You were manipulated into sexual situations you were in no way comfortable with, or prepared for. That’s abuse. You agreed to model, not be sexually assaulted! What now? Now, you deal. He’s already won. Because the second you say anything the world will descend on YOU – the impressionable young girl just trying to carve out a little magazine space for herself – demanding to know why YOU didn’t ‘just say no’, why you ‘let that happen’, why you didn’t come forward sooner. They’ll call you a slut, a liar, and a fame-whore. And all you can do is sit there, take the mistreatment, and watch as people choose to defend your abuser.

    It is way too easy for someone in a position of authority to manipulate people into doing things that, given some space and time, they would never agree to do. And that’s disgusting. Ffs, if you’re unwilling to blame the accused attacker without evidence, then how can you do that EXACT thing to the victim and feel like a decent human being?

  • Nicc Niccole

    He’s a predator.ive read numerous accounts from different sources.ive viewed his work,which speaks volumes.a predator with very rich connections.i must lean towards the victims,as they’ve nothing to gain by reaching out concerning this abuse.

  • ChicagoJohn

    I’m a photographer. I’ve been shooting for about 25 years. I need to start by saying that I’ve photographed plenty of women nude, and I find nothing wrong with sexually charged images.
    But when you’ve been doing your job as long as I have, you can get a definite vibe from another photographer’s aesthetic about their personality.
    Richardson’s images creeped me out the moment that I saw them, and the stories that the models have told seem to match that aesthetic all too well.
    If Richardson had directly confronted the accusations, there would be reason to doubt them. But he hasn’t. His entire denial is to say that its “lies”.
    Look at it this way: if someone said that you made them touch them and give them a hand job, wouldn’t you start by saying, “we never had any sexual contact… at all”? Or would you just say “its all lies”?

    If any model had spread “lies” of the type that his model’s have alleged, I’d be hitting them with a slander suit so fast that they might start eating.
    Clearly, there is something to these stories. Clearly, Terry is a twisted individual.
    I’ll never get why a man so lacking in talent has become so wanted in the industry. It can’t be because of his personality, that’s for sure.

  • ChicagoJohn

    If one person says something truly awful about you, it could be a vendetta.
    If a few women come forward to say that they were taken advantage by you, then clearly, you’ve been screwing up… big time.

  • ChicagoJohn

    “We do not have enough evidence, or enough proof, or enough official
    police driven justice system investigation in order to make that search
    for the truth any clearer.”

    Exactly how many women have to come forward to say that they’ve been inappropriately groped and approached by him for you to feel that its valid?
    Ten? Twenty?

  • ChicagoJohn

    “Anything less than a police investigation is nothing but rumour and hearsay.”

    Only legally.
    Harumph can offer an opinion based on a half dozen women’s accounts… yes?
    Or do we have to wait until he’s arrested and convicted to offer our opinion, based on the amount of people complaining?

  • ChicagoJohn

    Did you read Terry’s so-called-denial?

  • ChicagoJohn

    “And you don’t suppose that as the number of people laying allegations
    against him increases, the amount of people that will falsely do so in
    an attempt to extort money from him might increase?”

    No. Because if they make incorrect accusations, he can accuse them of slander.
    You’ll note that he’s yet to actually charge anyone with slander. I presume this is for a reason… yes?

  • ChicagoJohn

    “In such a sense, some of these models may well be laying false
    allegations against Richardson in hopes the numerous other claims may
    validate their false claims somehow, hoping to either garner some
    attention from the media for themselves (playing the victim) or even
    seek an out of court settlement so they won’t kick up a smear campaign
    or the like against him.”

    Riiiiight. Because the one thing that women love to do is to come forward and say that they were taken advantage of by a creepy guy with a porn mustache.

  • ChicagoJohn

    I find it outstanding and horrible that very few people picked up on your sarcasm.
    I thought your quote marks made it pretty darned clear.

  • ChicagoJohn

    You are head shakingly-stupid.

    1) he’s shooting digital. If he has any belief at all that this will come back to bite him, with one press of a button? Poof. Photos gone.
    2) have you never heard of peer pressure before? I’ve seen it in action on film sets. And based on the people that I’ve talked to (I’m a photographer) it happens all of the time on photo shoots. People who never signed up for something suddenly go along. Its not cool.

  • ChicagoJohn

    Steve was clearly being sarcastic. Why is it that no one is picking up on sarcasm anymore?

  • ChicagoJohn

    It is my line of work, and I can tell you:
    You’re not supposed to ask the model for a hand job.

  • ChicagoJohn

    Who would want to?
    Its creeptastic.

  • ChicagoJohn

    “… Cycling in general is full of cheats and it stinks…”

    As a photographer for 25 years, I can tell you that there are very few industries that have as bad of a reputation as photographers for pulling this kind of BS.
    The very reason why I hate Terry is because he besmirches the rest of us with this type of idiotic behavior. And no… you’re not helping by defending him.

  • ChicagoJohn

    I’ve heard far too many stories from models about photographers who went over the line, and they were too young to say “should I be…?”

  • ChicagoJohn

    I kinda view it as the semi-retarded thumbs up..

  • ChicagoJohn

    I’m a photographer with 25 years who has shot a lot of nudes.
    I’m so glad to hear someone else say the same thing.

    He uses the same type of lighting almost all the time (flat, one flash) and is amazingly untalented. I’ll never get why he keeps getting hired… when there are tons of better photographers out there.

  • Theo Lubbe

    Going to court would cost him money and waste his time. Money and time he may be unable to recoup out of these people.

    It would also look worse on his resume than “has been accused of touching models despite-the-fact-everyone-knows-he-does-this-already-anyway-and-he-doesn’t-even-deny-it”.

    If they’re so sure of their claims against him, why aren’t *they* suing *him*?

  • Theo Lubbe

    Whether the models are men, women or transgender/transexual/etc is irrelevant here. Fact is that when some people see an opportunity to try and extort someone famous of even a bit of their money, they’ll often go for it.

    I mean, my mom’s friend’s just been accused by one of her supposed friends of infidelity, and a claim of over $35k NZD placed against her and her husband, where this woman had been stealing from them, deliberately caused issues between my mom’s friend and her brother while said friend was here in South Africa *to sort out her deceased dad’s will*, shoplifted numerous times for which she was arrested at least twice, both times which the friend had to pay bail for, AND sent slanderous, impersonating emails from the friend’s iPad and via her Gmail account while she was sitting in Hong Kong on her way back to New Zealand.

    People can be messed up. That you think people won’t go after Richardson in the manner described shows nothing more than your naivete.

  • ChicagoJohn

    “Whether the models are men, women or transgender/transexual/etc is irrelevant here.”

    No, its completely relevant here, despite your want to overlay your mom’s baggage on Terry’s accusers.
    Its not ONE woman.
    My “naivete” is balanced by the fact that I actually AM a photographer, who shoots nudes, and knows what lines you don’t cross. Except in those special and rare cases where you’re specifically asked to cross them.

    Richardson has issues. Anyone who looks at his photos can tell, he’s like that uncle that had a Polaroid. Except for reasons I’ll never quite understand, he has a fawning posse with him… which you are apparently part of.
    Go figure; another bad artist who behaves badly, and has people lining up to say “oh man… Richard would never DO that! Sure, he always photographs himself getting hand-jobs from models that look like they’re underaged…. but that’s not his thing!”

  • Roy Stuart

    “…why a man so lacking in talent has become so wanted in the industry?”

    In advertising it’s who you know, what parties you go, who you blow or let blow you, etc
    Success in this industry has nothing to do with talent…believe it.

  • Guest1000

    She didn’t actually go to the police, she called them trying to put the information out of what Terry Richardson allegedly does rather than press charges because she even admitted she had buyers remorse from alleged sexual encounter. Why hasn’t he ever been brought up on charges? I am neither for or against him, the truth is the only thing that matters.