Fashion Photographer Marc Baptiste Accused of Assaulting Model During Shoot

model sues marc baptiste sexual assault photo shoot lawsuit

Famed fashion photographer Marc Baptiste has been accused of sexually assaulting a model during a shoot 20 years ago.

Former model Alwantha Lawson has filed a lawsuit against Baptiste accusing the photographer of sexual assault and battery during a photo shoot in New York in 2002.

In the complaint, Lawson claims that she had arranged through a mutual acquaintance to pose for a shoot for Baptiste’s book Intimate: Nudes by Marc Baptiste in his Manhattan studio.

Upon arriving at his studio, Lawson, who was a 22-year-old rising model at the time, claims she was surprised to find Baptiste there alone.

This was despite Baptiste — who is known for his debut album covers for artists like Aaliyah, Erykah Badu, and The Fugees — allegedly promising Lawson that others would be at the studio to do her hair and makeup.

According to the lawsuit that was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, the photographer allegedly locked the door and told Lawson to undress.

Once he began photographing Lawson, the model claims that he attempted to force her to masturbate “for the camera” and then sexually assaulted her after she refused to do so. Lawson alleges that Baptiste continued taking photos throughout the ordeal.

The court documents claim that Lawson’s boyfriend encouraged her to report the assault to the police, which she almost did that day.

However, the model only made it as far as the police precinct before her agent called her and told her not to report the alleged incident.

Instead, Lawson allegedly wrote a letter to Baptiste demanding the return of the video and photos he took and an apology.

She allegedly went on to meet with the photographer and he agreed to destroy the images. However, Baptiste purportedly never apologized to Lawson and later got her blacklisted from the industry by claiming she was “difficult” to work with.

Lawson eventually filed a police report in January 2006 but nothing ever came of it. She is now suing under NYC’s gender-motivated violence act for unspecified damages.

However, in a statement to The New York Post, Baptiste said that the claims in the lawsuit were “false.”

The photographer claimed that Lawson had an axe to grind over the fact she didn’t make it into his book Intimate: Nudes by Marc Baptiste. Baptiste also claims that he burned the negatives for the shoot in front of her, her agent, his wife, and his studio manager.

“I conducted all my photo shoots [in a] very professional manner. My legal team will handle it,” Baptiste tells The New York Post.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.