Renowned Photographer Marc Baptiste Sued as Serial Sexual Predator

default author image03.18.2024

New York, NY –  Former model Alwantha Lawson has come forward with new allegations that photographer Marc Baptiste sexually assaulted her during a photoshoot in 2002.

In 2002, Baptiste was powerful and well-known, having shot album covers for the Fugees, Aaliyah, and Erykah Badu. Lawson was a 22-year-old model on the rise: she had already been featured in publications like Glamour and Cosmopolitan magazine. He invited her to his Manhattan studio for a photoshoot, where he was waiting alone. After instructing her to disrobe for the camera, he told her to masturbate. When she did not comply to his liking, he approached her, forcibly spread her legs, and penetrated her vagina with his fingers repeatedly. He ignored her cries to stop. Afterward, Lawson wiped tears from her face as she got dressed. Baptiste whispered, “thanks for getting intimate with me.” At the time, he was working on his book, Intimate: Nudes by Marc Baptiste, which is still available on Amazon.

After assaulting Lawson, Baptiste used his power in the industry to spread the word that she was difficult to work with. Lawson was forced to abandon her modeling career.
In a 2007 lawsuit, Baptiste was accused of publishing nudes of a 16-year-old without her consent. And this past January, Popsugar published a statement from yet another Baptiste accuser who had filed a lawsuit against him based on repeated sexual assaults he committed while employing her. This morning, the Crumiller firm filed Lawson v Baptiste in Manhattan state court (index number pending). The complaint asserts claims under the NYC Gender-Motivated Violence Act.

Statement from Julia Elmaleh-Sachs, Senior Associate at Crumiller P.C.:

“The exploitation of young women in the modeling industry is sadly nothing new. Marc Baptiste, a powerful, well-connected photographer and serial predator took advantage of our client when she was an eager 22-year old model. He sexually assaulted her, then blacklisted her from the industry while he went on to shoot icons like Misty Copeland and Missy Elliott. Now, the tables have turned. By filing this lawsuit, Ms. Lawson seeks justice and accountability from Baptiste.”

Read the complaint:

Media Contact:
Susan Crumiller, Founding Attorney
susan@crumiller.com
(212) 390-8480