Did Pervy American Apparel Founder Dov Charney Enslave a Former Employee for Sex?

Dov Charney's status as a noted perv is pretty established by now, and goes beyond American Apparel's ass-baring Lolita-porn adverts, wispy Dov-selected store clerks, or, um, the time he masturbated in front of a Jane magazine reporter (those was just warning signs, if you can believe it). Since his company catapulted to success in the early 2000s, he's been the subject of numerous sexual harassment suits by employees, including one instance where he allegedly tried to bribe the plaintiff to drop the charges. But for all his leering and jerking, the moustachio'd entrepreneur has never been involved in a case as despicable or as shocking as the latest.

By now you've probably heard the basics: Irene Morales, a 20-year-old former employee, is suing Charney for $260 million, alleging that he 'held her captive and forced her into sex acts' while she was still a teenager, reports the Daily News. The suit has been temporarily halted,pending a hearing on an arbitration agreement, but that doesn't make the details any less awful. Some of Morales' claims:

When she was 18, the suit alleges Charney invited her over to his house, answered the door in his underwear and forced Morales to perform fellatio on him, 'nearly suffocating' her in the process. The NY Daily News

"She was then, to all intents and purposes, held prisoner in the apartment for several hours and forced to perform additional sexual acts," the suit says.

The forced sex lasted eight months until Morales resigned under pressure, her lawyer, Eric Baum, said yesterday.

Morales, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, said she started as a salesperson at American Apparel's Chelsea location and was quickly promoted to store manager.

"[I] believed I would work in a professional environment where promotions and work advancement would be based on merit and hard work," she said. "I was extremely devastated to find out that was not the case."

Baum said Morales didn't immediately go to authorities because of trauma and shame, but she may press criminal charges in the future.

When she was 17, the suit claims, Charney requested 'explicit photos' from Morales, and dangled her job over her head if she refused. In 2008, she was  allegedly hospitalized due to a nervous breakdown from the pressure. 

Naturally, Charney's lawyers have countered with a mix of surprise and derision, characterizing her suit as an 'illegal conspiracy to extort money from American Apparel,' the company's spokesperson said in a statement. 'We are very confident that [Morales'] claims will be promptly referred by the court to confidential binding arbitration where her claims and the company's counter-claims will be resolved, we believe fully in favor of the company.'

Whether this one sticks or not, one thing is certain -- Charney's a grade-A misogynist creep. Don't need a courtroom to know that. We'll be sticking with this story as it develops.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at March 11, 2011, 7:01am

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