Leon Black tries to deny Guzel Ganieva’s rape allegations
Lawyers for billionaire Leon Black, who resigned from his hedge fund years ago when his ties to Jeffrey Epstein were investigated, said during a Tuesday court hearing that a signed agreement backed by years of payments leaves him facing one of two lawsuits protects those accused of raping him.
In 2021, Black quit his position as CEO of Apollo Global Management months before he was scheduled to step down, shortly after Russian model Guzel Ganieva called him a “predator” on Twitter. Ganieva followed up on those tweets with a lawsuit filed in the New York County Supreme Court.
However, more than five years prior to those tweets, Ganieva was accepting monthly payments in the six figures, Black says. The parties deny the events that preceded these transfers.
Ganieva’s lawsuit alleges that she was a single mother in her early 20s who had recently immigrated to the United States from Russia when she first met Black in 2008. She claims Black began performing “sadistic sexual acts on her without her consent and despite her no.” this year. Black, who is married, insists they had an amicable relationship that lasted six years until 2014.
In 2011, Ganieva said she relied on Black to fund her undergraduate studies to pursue a career outside of modeling. Black had her sign a $480,000 “loan” with a five percent interest rate, which her lawsuit says she could not repay.
Ganieva claims that Black had her sign another similar one two years later in 2013.
Black’s attorney, Michael Carlinsky, of the Quinn Emanuel law firm, began his hearing by pointing to another agreement: a one-page document entitled “Release and Non-Disclosure,” which Carlinsky described as a “broad release” — and lucrative one.
If you entered According to the release at a luncheon at the Four Seasons restaurant in October 2015, Ganieva received $2 million at signing, approximately $1 million in loan forgiveness and $100,000 in monthly payments for more than five years, which resulted in a grand total of approximately $9.5 million. said Carlinsky.
Black’s attorney noted that Ganieva graduated from Columbia University, sought the help of the hedge fund honcho and applied to Harvard University, and spent time as a writer for US News and World Report. Ganieva is now a graduate of law school.
“You have a sophisticated plaintiff signing a statement that is one page in plain English,” Carlinsky said.
Ganieva’s attorney Jeanne M. Christensen argues that her client entered into these agreements under duress. She argued that her client needed “tutoring in English” to achieve her academic and professional achievements.
“They assume it’s valid and enforceable,” Christensen said, referring to the agreement.
Manhattan Superior Court Justice David Cohen asked Christensen if she requested a copy of the agreement before filing the lawsuit. Christensen acknowledged that Ganieva’s legal team did not.
However, Carlinsky claims that Ganieva did not object to the agreements as she continued to receive money from Black.
“If you want to dismiss the costs that you claimed at the time, you must dismiss, and do so immediately,” Carlinsky argued. “There is not a case we have found, Your Honor, that lasts longer than two years.”
Christensen claims her client feared a terrible backlash if she refused the hush money.
“How can she refuse when she’s under the release that she believes she’ll be thrown in jail if she breaks it?” asked Christensen.
Christensen denies that the agreement called for monthly payments in the six-figure range.
“All this nonsense about her getting paid for 15 years is just that,” she said. “It’s not in this document.”
She acknowledged that there may have been an informal arrangement that could explain the 65-month payment along the lines of “as long as you shut up, I’ll keep paying you money.”
“When did the payments stop?” asked the judge.
Christensen responded that they ended when her client moved on in her tweets.
At one point, Judge Cohen asked if Ganieva would return the money from the monthly payments if he found she entered into the agreement under duress, but Christensen would not commit to it.
“I need to speak to my client, Your Honor,” she said.
The judge remained skeptical.
“Won’t her failure to reciprocate that consideration nullify her claim that she rejected the agreement?” he asked.
Ganieva has claimed that Black defamed her by publicly accusing her of extortion in a statement to Bloomberg.
Black’s other attorney, E. Danya Perry of the Perry Guha law firm, told the judge, “Our argument is that this is demonstrably true.”
“He subjectively believed – we think fair – that she had blackmailed him,” Perry said.
Apollo claimed that an independent review by global law firm Dechert LLP cleared Black and the company of any impropriety related to Epstein. dercherts report found that Black paid Epstein $158 million for estate planning between 2012 and 2017, long after Epstein was jailed after pleading guilty to soliciting a minor into prostitution in Florida.
A separate lawsuit filed by Cheri Pierson in the same court also accused Black of sexual assault at Epstein’s New York townhouse.
Judge Cohen ended the hearing without a verdict.
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https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/billionaire-leon-black-claims-broad-release-clears-him-of-one-of-two-lawsuits-accusing-him-of-rape/ Leon Black tries to deny Guzel Ganieva’s rape allegations