Last week, a former model named Charlotte Waters revealed on Reddit that she was allegedly sexually coerced and manipulated by Richardson at a photoshoot when she was 19. Now 24, Waters described in detail both on Reddit and in a subsequent interview with Vocativ how Richardson coerced her into performing sexually explicit acts with him as he and a female assistant took photos and cheered her on. Reading Waters stomach-turning story, I was disgusted but nonetheless not at all surprised by Richardson’s behavior; after all, we’ve heard about it before from other models, like Jamie Peck and Rie Rasmussen, who’ve experienced it firsthand as well. But I was immediately curious about this female assistant Waters described as being just as participatory in her degradation as Richardson himself, even taking photographs while Richardson ejaculated on her face. Well, Vocativ did some digging. The “probably 40 or 45ish … with dark hair and a little bit of work done on her face” woman that assisted Richardson during not only Waters’ shoot, but Peck’s as well, has been positively identified by both as Leslie Lessin, a stylist that Richardson has worked with professionally for years, including a recent cover shoot for Harper’s Bazaar featuring Miley Cyrus.
According to Waters, after Richardson came on her face while Lessin clicked away, the stylist accompanied her in a cab home, to perform what Vocative called “emotional damage control.”
“She kept telling me that I was a really strong girl, and that I’m really cool, and that it’s so good that I can handle that sort of thing,” Waters said. “Looking back it was obviously her attempt to make me feel like what I did was a good thing and what happened wasn’t bad.”
Peck confirmed to Vocativ that Lessin was present during her shoot with Richardson in March 2010, during which the photographer asked if he could make tea with Peck’s tampon and “strongly suggested” that she give him a hand job.
“Oh my God, I just read Charlotte’s description of the assistant, and that is her to a T,” Peck told Vocativ in an email. “How does Leslie Lessin sleep at night?” And then later, in a phone call with the site, “I remember Lessin as being very gung ho about everything. She was encouraging me the whole way, like isn’t this fun? Isn’t this cool? Everything is A-OK.”
So who the hell is this woman who is seemingly more than happy to pressure barely legal models into performing sexual acts with a grotesque 40something man on camera? According to Vocativ, “Lessin’s resume includes dozens of Harper’s Bazaar covers and editorial spreads, the Pirelli calendar and campaigns for international brands like Levi’s, Aldo, Nike, Carolina Herrera and Heineken. She has also worked with a number of major celebrities, including Miley Cyrus, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Alba and Barbara Streisand.”
What’s not on her resume, I imagine? All the private photo shoots she’s participated in with Richardson, in which he defiles and sexually manhandles models on camera for seemingly his own personal collection. The question is — WHY? Lessin has not yet responded to Vocativ’s requests for comment. Richardson has, of course, continued to characterize the mounting list of allegations from various models as “a witch hunt.”