These days American Apparel seems to be more known for the personal life of its slimy CEO Dov Charney than for the hipster uniforms they sell. This is partially because of a lawsuit that was filed earlier this month in which a former employee named Irene Morales sued Charney for a quarter of a billion dollars, alleging that he forced her to perform sexual acts on him and caused her to have a severe emotional breakdown. On March 24th, another sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against Charney by a former American Apparel employee named Kimbra Lo, who appeared on the Today show and described him as a sexual predator.
Accusations of Charney preying on young girls came as little surprise. People first became aware of his questionable behavior after a controversial Jane magazine profile ran in 2004 in which Charney pleasured himself in front of journalist Claudine Ko, and admitted to having sexual relationships with his staff. Ko details the disturbing masturbation incident:
“Are you going to do it again?” I ask.
“Can I?” he says, adjusting himself in his chair.
And thus begins another compulsive episode of what Dov likes to call self pleasure, during which we casually carry on our interview, discussing things like business models, hiring practices and the stupidity of focus groups.
“Masturbation in front of women is underrated,” Dov explains to me later over the phone. “It’s much easier on the woman. She gets to watch, it’s a sensual experience that doesn’t involve a man violating a woman, yet once the man has his release, it’s over and you can talk to the guy.” And, Iris adds on another day, “I think it’s really healthy to have an orgasm four times a day. It’s got to be great for business.”
Yikes! Since the Jane exposé, Charney has come under fire for both American Apparel’s sexually explicit advertisements and his disgusting hiring practices. According to a contract new employees are required to sign, impeccable eyebrow grooming and capturing a “Classy-Vintage-Chique-Late 80’s-Early 90’s-Ralph Lauren-Vogue-Nautical-High-end brand” aesthetic are just two of the things required of its workers. Also, “classy black girls” are the only kind of black girls the company will hire. They really don’t like trashy ones, you know?
Given Dov’s overall suckiness as a human being, the allegations of him being a rapist seem to make perfect sense, right? Unfortunately, a slew of photographs and emails between Morales and Charney have been leaked to media outlets and subsequently put Morales’ credibility into question. The emails show Morales not as a girl who has been victimized by the powerful Charney, but as someone who’s bent on getting his attention in order to obtain a job. Her text messages contradict some of the very claims she has made in her case against him. For example, Morales has said that Charney gave her a large dildo and “induced” her to come to his home and subject herself to hours of “psychological torment.” In reality, Morales sent Charney a text saying, “I bought a fat dildo.” Other messages show Morales begging him for a job, money and clothes, saying she’ll give him “delicious blowjobs” in return. Oopsie daisies!
If Morales is in fact lying about Charney, she’s not only fucking over herself, she’s potentially screwing over the girls who actually have been coerced into having sex with him. If they were afraid to speak up before, the likelihood of them coming forth now is slim to none. By revealing herself to be a woman with a v for vendetta, she’s making Charney look like someone who has been unfairly vilified by the press—something I don’t actually believe to be true. Regardless of whether or not Morales is telling the truth, Charney has been proven himself to be an unethical person with inappropriate relationships with his female employees. I don’t doubt that he actually has pressured girls into having sex. If he’s proven innocent, however, Dov might be getting off the hook for his pervy behavior for good.