Today, in “Scary Reminders Humanity Sucks” news: the CEO of popular LA brand Wildfox is accused of committing statutory rape after he allegedly had sex with an underage model. How he did it? Through manipulation, dangerous substances and lies.
In a complaint against CEO James (Jimmy) Sommers, 43, Meghan Chereek claims she was manipulated into having sex as a 17-year-old. The underage fashion student and aspiring model had dropped out of a fashion college in LA so she could help her roommate “deal with significant emotional stress,” then wound up trying to sell her own art and do modeling in order to make money.
In July of 2012, Chereek says she was introduced to Sommers at a restaurant. Upon finding out his occupation, she noted that she knew one of the brand’s models. Sommers commented that Chereek looked similar to the model and wound up offering a tentative modeling contract. And that is when things got really f’d up, says Chereek.
According to the model, later that day, Sommers initiated sexual contact with her, despite her age, and after she couldn’t afford to pay the bills in her apartment and was kicked out, gave her access to his Los Angeles home where he “repeatedly forced her to engage in oral sex and intercourse” while promising to eventually give her a contract with the brand. He told her that “nothing is free,” she says, and did horribly creepy things like manipulate her into having sex with another man while he was there, as well as masturbating on her cheek while she slept. Sommers would allegedly grab Chereek, shake her, scream at her and demand she do chores for him, frequently while hopped up on cocaine and supplying her with drugs, too.
According to Chereek’s complaint, this has caused her deep anguish:
“His behavior was intended to vex, annoy, or injure Plaintiff, and he unjustly and cruelly exercised his authority and power as president of WILDFOX to manipulate and sexually exploit Plaintiff,” the complaint reads.
Chereek is seeking unspecified damages for mental and emotional suffering, injuries, and trauma, counseling and therapy expenses, shame, humiliation, and indignity, as well as future therapy expenses.
Sommers, on the other hand, is charged with “unlawful sex with a minor, unlawful oral sex with a minor, gender violence against the young woman,” and other crimes.
It’s horrifying that somebody would manipulate an underage person — somebody who, by law, is still a child — into having sex utilizing promises of money. When you’re poor and desperate and you have nowhere to turn, it can seem like this is the only option, which is something that abusers are incredibly aware of and are quick to jump on. Hopefully, if all of this is true, justice will be served in this situation, and the “nothing is free” motto will now pertain to Sommers actual independence.
I am more than a little in awe of how brave Chereek is to go after a powerful person in an industry that holds grudges. Now, bring on the “she’s just doing this for fame” crowd…
Photo: J. Pacheco via NY Daily News.