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American Apparel strikes back against new Dov Charney accusers

After another sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against its controversial chief executive, American Apparel lashed out Thursday against the four former employees who filed it, saying they were colluding to "shake down" Dov Charney and the company for money. The Los Angeles clothing maker also said it had "voluminous evidence" to prove that the allegations were false.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday by the same lawyer who earlier this month filed a separate sexual harassment suit in New York against Charney, names four women, including 19-year-old Kimbra Lo.

The complaint says Charney began sending Lo "sexual text messages" in July 2010, and that he called her and said "he was masturbating on the phone while they spoke."

According to the suit, Lo ignored his calls and messages until Charney offered her a modeling and photography job in December, inviting her to meet him in his home to discuss the position.

After she arrived, Charney, wearing only a towel, "violently kissed her" and forced her to perform sexual acts, the suit alleges.

In a lengthy statement released by an American Apparel lawyer on Thursday, the company said Lo had pursued a romantic relationship with Charney and that it had her love letters and "smoking gun" photographs to prove it.

Eric Baum, the lawyer who is representing the plaintiffs in both sexual harassment lawsuits filed this month, said he was confident that Lo was telling the truth and that she was "tricked" into appearing for a meeting with Charney "and then was sexually assaulted and abused."

"The company’s statement is both irresponsible and false," he said in an interview Thursday. "The claims are legitimate and valid."

"Just because the company has a sexually charged ad campaign and environment, does not give its CEO Dov Charney a license to sexually abuse, harass and assault its employees," Baum said.

Here's the full statement from American Apparel:

American Apparel has recently learned that four plaintiffs have initiated a fraudulent and malicious lawsuit against Dov Charney and American Apparel in Los Angeles. All four plaintiffs are friends, two of whom live together, and they have colluded with one another to shake down Mr. Charney and American Apparel for money. With respect to Kimbra Lo, the lead claimant in the Los Angeles case, we are in possession of voluminous evidence which conclusively shows that her claims are meritless. After she left American Apparel, Ms. Lo aggressively pursued a romantic relationship with Mr. Charney. The company is in possession of love letters that Ms. Lo sent to Mr. Charney after she left the company. The company also has "smoking gun" photographs undermining her false accusations of unwelcome harassment. Ms. Lo's attorney is fully aware that his client's story is fiction, but he has nevertheless participated in the racket to shake down the company and Mr. Charney. Under no circumstances did Mr. Charney ever have an inappropriate relationship with any of the plaintiffs. It should be noted that American Apparel has already initiated an action in arbitration against each of these women in which the company has asserted claims for extortion. The company will file a motion to compel arbitration and require that these new claims be resolved together with the company's claims against the plaintiffs. When an arbitrator finally sees the many photographs and emails and other evidence in this case, this hoax and effort to extort the company will be finally revealed.

-- Andrea Chang 

 
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