In 2003, former model Caron Bernstein arrived at the Lower East Side studio of famed fashion photographer Terry Richardson.
For Bernstein, this shoot would signal a new phase of her career. As a high-fashion model who had already graced the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, Bernstein wanted to use this opportunity to promote her music career.
But when Bernstein made it onto set, she says she became a victim of sexual assault.
In an interview with New York Daily News, Bernstein says Richardson set about positioning her in a chair, taking a few photos – and, when the crew had left the room – exposing his penis, forcing himself into her mouth.
“It was like literally being shot with a stun gun. My brain just went on pause,” Bernstein, now 47, told the publication. “I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t performing as a model.”
Bernstein told the New York Daily News she can not remember if the alleged attack took seconds or minutes.
“I was like a deer in the headlights,” she said. “I wasn’t drugged, I wasn’t handcuffed. Thank God that never happened. But in a weird way, that would have made it easier to forgive myself for not fighting him off.”
She said Richardson then proceeded to ejaculate on her chest, taking more photos of her body. When reviewing more than 30 stills from the shoot, The New York Daily News confirmed the images showed Bernstein in different positions with semen on her breasts.
In a statement to the news outlet, Richardson’s lawyer Brad D. Rose has denied the claims.
“Ms. Bernstein knowingly and willingly posed for these photographs and at all times prior to and during the shoot, any contact she had with Mr. Richardson was consensual,” he said.
Bernstein is not the first woman to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct regarding Terry Richardson.
In 2007, Coco Rocha said she wouldn’t shoot with him again because she “didn’t feel comfortable”. In 2008, Jezebel received an email from a stylist named Anna who once shot with the photographer and claims when she was posing on the floor, she “felt a dick pressing into the side of [her] face”.