Celeb Photographer Marc Baptiste Accused of Violently Assaulting Model

J. Countess
J. Countess

According to a new court filing obtained by The Daily Beast, former model Alwantha Lawson is alleging that celebrity photographer Marc Baptiste, known for the debut album covers of artists like Aaliyah, Erykah Badu, and The Fugees, “violently” sexually assaulted her during a photo shoot in 2002.

Lawson was a 22-year-old “young,” “hopeful” model when she met Baptiste and was offered to take photos with the successful photographer for his upcoming book Intimate: Nudes by Marc Baptiste, the filing says. Lawson alleges that when she arrived to Baptiste's studio, he told her to undress completely before locking the door. She says in the filing that she was “assured” they wouldn't be alone during the nude shoot, but that was not the case.

Once she had undressed, Lawson alleges that Baptiste tried to “force Lawson to masturbate ‘for the camera.’” When Lawson refused, she alleges that Baptiste grew frustrated, saying “I’m not going to shoot until you cum. Make yourself cum.”

Lawson recounts that Baptiste disappeared into the back room and came back with a spray bottle with some sort of liquid and sprayed her with it before he “forcefully penetrated her vagina with his fingers repeatedly.”

According to the documents, Lawson “tried to fight” him off and Baptiste allegedly screamed “Show me! Show me what intimacy means to you,” continuing the assault even though Lawson had “protested, covered her face and cried.”

Lawson alleges that Baptiste continued taking photos throughout the ordeal. When she had dressed and was heading out the door to leave, the filing states that Baptiste “whispered, ‘thanks for getting intimate with me.’”

Baptiste then “blacklisted" Lawson from future job prospects by telling others in the industry she was “difficult” to work with, the filing states. Lawson, whose images before that had been featured in Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Glamour and Essence magazines, did not continue her modeling career after the alleged incident. The filing lists her as an “artist, entrepreneur, and freelancer.”

Lawson’s allegations are not the first against Baptiste. In 2007, Baptiste was sued by ex-model and America's Next Top Model contestant Jael Strauss for the unauthorized publishing of nude photos taken by the photographer when she was 16.

This past January, a photographer and cinematographer by the name of Jackie R. wrote an essay in Popsugar, in which she accused Baptiste of “verbal harassment and unwanted touching” when she worked for him from 2013 to 2016.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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