Kate Upton: I felt pressured to stay quiet about sexual assault

Wednesday, supermodel Kate Upton wrote a piece for Time magazine detailing accusations of sexual assault against Guess co-founder and former CEO Paul Marciano. She wrote, in part:

After the first day of shooting the Guess Lingerie campaign [on July 25, 2010], Paul Marciano said he wanted to meet with me. As soon as I walked in with photographer Yu Tsai, Paul came straight up to me, forcibly grabbed my breasts and started feeling them — playing with them actually. After I pushed him away, he said, “I’m making sure they’re real.”

Despite doing everything I could physically do to avoid his touch throughout the meeting, he continued to touch me in a very dominating and aggressive way, grabbing my thighs, my arms to pull me closer, my shoulders to pull me closer, my neck, my breasts, and smelling me. He then told Yu Tsai to leave us alone. I was able to send a quick text to Yu Tsai asking him to stay. He did, but that did not stop Paul’s constant grabbing. I was extremely shaken, surprised and scared.

At one point he forcibly grabbed the back of my head so that I could not move and started kissing my face and my neck. I remember not wanting to say “Get off of me” because I didn’t want to open my mouth to say anything because I didn’t want him to be able to put his tongue in my mouth. I had two options: do everything I could to wiggle away and avoid his pursuit, or punch the CEO of Guess. So I decided to just wiggle away.

On a subsequent shoot, Upton says Marciano continuously called her, wanting to come to her hotel room. She turned her phone off to avoid him. The next day she found out she’d been fired. Someone had called her manager claiming she was fat. There were a couple of subsequent photo shoots with Guess where Marciano once again tried to cozy up to Upton. She made an agreement with the photographer not to be left alone in a room with Marciano and then the photographer was fired. The substitute photographer helped rescue Upton from an awkward “date” with Marciano:

When we arrived at the hotel, Paul came right up to me, grabbed me hard by my arm and insisted he was taking me to dinner, just him and I, to celebrate the campaign. Ellen picked up on this, literally grabbed my other arm, and invited herself by saying she was so excited to celebrate the campaign with us. Paul told her she was not invited to dinner, and I felt like she saved me by pulling me away from him and jokingly walking me to the elevator, saying, “Well if I’m not going, Kate’s not going.” I have always been so grateful to Ellen for doing that.

Friday, Upton appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to talk about why she didn’t reveal any of this until a tweet last week. She claims she was pushed not to discuss what had happened by people whose careers depended in part on her showing up for work. From Fox News:

“I was 18 years old and everybody around me is pushing me to not tell my story, it’s better to keep things in the dark because everyone is incentivized by me getting on set, the agents, everybody gets paid if I show up on set.”

She continued, “So you’re constantly pushed to show up on set no matter what happens, and they’re bringing up examples of other women who are fine with this behavior and have really successful careers so you’re suddenly being pushed to be there.”

For the record, Marciano has denied everything, telling Time magazine, “I have never been alone with Kate Upton.” He added, “I have never touched her inappropriately. Nor would I ever refer to a Guess model in such a derogatory manner.”

But Upton isn’t the only person alleging misbehavior on Marciano’s part. Today former Playboy playmate Kristina Shannon claimed she was assaulted by Marciano after a Guess photo shoot in which he specifically mentioned Upton as a previous conquest:

The former girlfriend of the late Hugh Hefner claims Marciano invited himself over to her apartment after the test shoot to show her the photos and talk shop, but she says “He forced himself on me.”

Shannon claims he began “caressing my breasts and grabbing my crotch and walked me over to my bed and laid me on my stomach.” She then described the two having sexual intercourse.

Marciano also claimed, Shannon says, to have slept with Kate Upton and boasted, “Look where she is now.”

Shannon says she continued speaking with, seeing and allowing herself to be intimate Marciano in the hopes of getting the Guess campaign she was promised, but it never came to fruition.

All of this sounds reminiscent of the behavior of disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein, i.e. the forceful invitations to spend time alone, the mention of other successful women he’d supposedly slept with. The message in both cases seems pretty clear: Go along with this and I can make you a star.

Here’s the GMA interview with Upton: