The model who took to Reddit in order to anonymously share her horrific experience working with Terry Richardson has come forward: her name is Charlotte Waters, she was a 19-year-old art student at the time, and she's sharing her story because she just wants Richardson's clients and supporters to know what a disgusting, exploitative creep he is.
In an interview with Vocativ, Waters rehashes and elaborates on several points made in the Reddit post (which has since been removed); she also discusses the impact the devastating impact the assault had on her life. She says that she was motivated to come forward because she started seeing articles about his horrific behavior on Facebook:
"I wanted to say, 'Hey, I've experienced this first hand. These aren't just rumors.' But I wasn't sure I wanted to come out about this very embarrassing thing I did, so I was just sitting on it for a while. And then I realized that what happened to me is something that has happened to other people and will likely continue to happen until his dick falls off, so I have to say something."
At the time of the assault, she says, she was "a rapist's dream, completely naive and trusting, but passive and shy on top of that." She'd done nude modeling before; in her past experience, though, "the power was balanced. I didn't feel like [any photographer] had control over me." With Richardson, of course, things were very different.
In the interview, she also goes into greater detail about the assault. As she said on Reddit, Terry Richardson stuck his thumb in her mouth and had her hold the waistband of his pants. Then he took his penis out, and she froze.
I felt like I was already in it to the point that I couldn't get out, which sounds kind of crazy, but I had the mentality of 19-year-old. Even just talking about it makes me start to feel the way I felt then, which was just completely paralyzed and freaked out.
As she recounted on Reddit, he then started "licking [her] ass" and told her to perform oral sex on him. She elaborates on what, exactly, happened:
I don't even really remember what specific things were happening at that point, but he was directing everything. Like, "OK squeeze my balls," "OK, put my dick in your mouth," "OK, now kiss me." It wasn't intimate. He also straddled me and started jerking off on my face.
He told me to keep my eyes open super wide. His assistant was standing right there too, and his cum got in my eyes. This was actually his favorite moment. He got so excited. He kept telling me to keep my eyes open, and he grabbed his camera, and his assistant had her little point-and-shoot, and they were just taking all these pictures of it.
Afterwards Richardson and his assistant "could tell that [she] was in shock," and later that night she had a "full-blown panic attack" that sent her to the hospital; after that, she stopped nude modeling entirely and moved to L.A. "It's actually crazy to realize, at this point, how much that experience affected the path that my life took from then forward," she says.
At the time, she blamed herself. "I felt guilty," she told Vocativ. "I felt like an idiot. I chalked it up to all of the stupid choices I had made." Now, though, she recognizes Richardson for what he is: a vile, manipulative predator. Accordingly, she reported him to the NYPD — sadly (but not at all unexpectedly), the detective told her that "this isn't a crime situation because [she] never said no." This sort of reductive, black-and-white thinking is exactly why Richardson gets away with assault in the first place: he preys on inexperienced young women whose position in a skewed power dynamic makes it exceptionally difficult to say no, and our culture of victim-blaming accepts their terrified, shocked silence as consent. Terry Richardson knew exactly what he was doing. He's done it before, and — unless everyone in the fashion industry stops overlooking and tacitly condoning his ghastly behavior — he's going to continue to do it.
When asked what she thought of all of Richardson's work with respected magazines and high-profile celebrities, Waters responded, "I don't put any blame on the celebrities that have been photographed by him because they have no way of knowing the truth." However, his shoot with Obama was pretty shocking to her: "You'd think the president would have some sort of team that would tell him that Richardson is a photographer with a very bad reputation." Uh, yeah. 316,000 results come up if you Google "Terry Richardson assault," and not a single person on Obama's team knew about the allegations against him? Really?
"Until people expose what he's really like, how are his clients going to know?" wonders Waters, quite generously. But the problem isn't public ignorance: it's that his clients do know. People have been talking about how fucking disgusting, degrading and disrespectful Richardson is since 2004. If you're a member of the fashion industry, you'd have to impossibly myopic to have missed all of that. So now it's time we start holding magazines and celebrities accountable for employing and palling around with someone who's known for gleefully sexually assaulting multiple women.
It's nothing less than shameful that he's been so successful for so long.
Image via Getty.