A former financier and associate of Jeffrey Epstein was prosecuted Monday for raping a woman at Epstein’s New York mansion in the spring of 2002, court documents show.
Lawyers for Cheri Pierson, who filed the lawsuit in New York State Court in Manhattan on Monday, said Leon Black’s ‘brutal attack’ took place in a suite at the luxury townhouse which contained a massage table and was connected to a bathroom, according to court filings.
Black has resigned from the management of investment firm Apollo Global Management, which he co-founded, after an independent review of his ties to Epstein last year. The review, conducted by a New York law firm, said Black was not involved in Epstein’s criminal activities.
“Black had the opportunity and the means to rape Ms. Pierson that day because their meeting had been pre-arranged by his close friend and confidant, Epstein,” the lawsuit alleges.
Black’s attorney, Susan Estrich of Estrich Goldin, told NBC News that “we intend to dismiss these baseless allegations and pursue all of our remedies to hold the [plaintiff’s firm] legally responsible for their misconduct and misuse of the courts.
According to the lawsuit, Epstein arranged for Pierson to meet the “powerful businessman” and deliver Black a message for $300 to Epstein’s townhouse after he completed his work. At the time, Epstein did not reveal Black’s name to Pierson, nor did she ask, according to the suit. The suit indicates that Pierson was a single mother living in New Jersey and was introduced to Epstein by Ghislaine Maxwell at the time.
Epstein said Black is “helping people” and “implying he may be able to ‘help’ Ms. Pierson financially” with a skincare product she was trying to sell, according to court documents.
Black is accused of using the edge of the massage table “as a fulcrum to harness her physical power and to disable Mrs. Pierson”, and “she recalls Black making vulgar and disgusting comments, but his immediate fear was to smash the top of his skull into the hard ground if Black wanted to,” according to court documents.
Pierson alleges that “she remembers screaming and screaming desperately – but doesn’t know what words came out in her upside-down state”. Court documents add: ‘She tried to kick. She struggled to free her legs from his vicious grip, but he was too strong.
The documents state that after Pierson’s rape they left Epstein’s apartment and outside “Black turned to Pierson and said ‘I am Black’.”
“Mrs. Pierson looked at Black in confusion, as she didn’t know his name and thought it oddly referred to skin color. Black then said ‘Black, my name is Leo Black,'” according to the documents.
At the time, she had no medical insurance and was using over-the-counter medication for pain and to prevent infections, and ‘for several weeks it was painful and difficult to urinate,’ according to court documents. .
The lawsuit says a friend persuaded Pierson not to tell anyone because “nobody would believe her.”
Pierson’s lawyer, Jeanne Christensen, said that “With the passage of the Adult Survivor’s Act, survivors of sexual violence like Ms. Pierson can seek the justice they deserve, no matter how many years their trauma has been suffered.”
“We look forward to holding the estate of Black and Epstein accountable for their appalling unlawful conduct, as alleged in our client’s complaint,” she said in a statement.
Pierson’s attorneys did not immediately respond to questions about whether she had spoken with medical or law enforcement officials about the alleged rape.
Another woman, Guzel Ganieva, sued Black last year, accusing her of rape and defamation, according to court documents. The lawsuit is pending in New York County Supreme Court. Black said Ganieva’s claims were part of an “extortion scheme” or “extortion campaign,” according to court filings. Christensen is also Ganieva’s attorney.
Epstein’s estate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.