Hedge fund billionaire Leon Black—who stepped down as CEO of Apollo Global Management last year amid revelations about his financial relationship with late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein—was sued in New York civil court Monday by a woman who says she was raped by Black 20 years ago.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in New York, Cheri Pierson alleged she was raped by Leon Black in 2002 at Jeffrey Epstein’s New York mansion, in an attack she described as causing her “excruciating pain.”
Pierson said she had come to Epstein’s townhome to meet a “very powerful and wealthy man” who would be able to invest in a skin care product Pierson hoped to launch.
Pierson said Epstein arranged the meeting and told her she would be giving the man a massage, but Pierson said in the lawsuit that Black brutally attacked her and left her with “grossly swollen, torn and bleeding” genitals.
Pierson says in the lawsuit she was introduced to Epstein through disgraced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who earlier this year was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of trafficking victims as young as 14 for Epstein.
The lawsuit alleges that Black, during his decades-long friendship with Epstein, slept with women passed on from Epstein after they outgrew Epstein’s preference for pubescent girls.
Black’s attorney, Susan Estrich, told Forbes Pierson’s allegations are “categorically false” and part of a “a scheme to extort money” from Black by threatening his reputation.
Pierson is requesting a jury trial, unspecified damages, for Black to cover her legal fees and a restraining order that would keep him from “such further unlawful conduct.” (The lawsuit also targets Epstein’s estate for negligence).
The lawsuit was filed under the Adult Survivor’s Act, a New York State law that kicked off a one-year window in which sexual assault victims who were over the age of 18 when they were abused can sue their alleged abusers regardless of when the crime occurred or if the statute of limitations had expired. Other high-profile cases brought under the act include a lawsuit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll against former President Donald Trump, who has alleged he groped her in the 1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room. Two women who said they are victims of Epstein also sued JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank in separate lawsuits last week, claiming the banks profited from and turned a blind eye to Epstein’s abuse.
Pierson’s lawyer, Jeanne Christensen, also represents former model Guzel Ganieva, who sued Black last year and claimed that Black “sexually harassed and abused” her for years. Pierson’s allegations were included in Ganieva’s lawsuit, but under a pseudonym. Ganieva’s case remains tied up in court after Black accused her of extortion. Black stepped back from Apollo, which he cofounded, in 2021, after a company investigation found that Black had paid Epstein $158 million in fees for services, along with providing him with more than $30 million in loans and a gift of $10 million to Epstein’s charity. Epstein died by suicide in a New York jail in 2019 while awaiting a trial for sex trafficking.
We estimate Black is worth $9 billion. Even after stepping down as CEO, Black still owns about 12% of Apollo.
Bombshell Lawsuit Accuses Leon Black of Brutal Rape in Epstein Mansion (The Daily Beast)
Billionaire Leon Black, Revealed To Pay Jeffrey Epstein $158 Million, Is Stepping Down (Forbes)
Who Is Leon Black, The Billionaire Who Helped Bankroll Jeffrey Epstein’s Second Act? (Forbes)
Trump Sued For Rape In New E. Jean Carroll Lawsuit As N.Y. Law Expected To Spark Flood Of Sexual Assault Suits (Forbes)