A previous paralegal at Pierce Bainbridge Beck Rate & Hecht on Thursday accused ousted associate Donald Lewis of sexual assault and defamation amid an ongoing legal battle over his termination from the company.
The lawsuit, submitted in Manhattan federal court, claimed that Lewis masturbated in entrance of the plaintiff, Selina Kyle, and touched her breast in July 2018, though the two have been working at Pierce Bainbridge’s New York place of work on a Saturday.
In accordance to the filing, Lewis threatened Kyle soon after the incident, telling her that she would be “finished” at the agency if she informed any individual about the face, and then negative-mouthed her to other attorneys.
Lewis, who has denied the allegations, claimed in a different match final yr that he was illegally fired from Pierce Bainbridge after he lifted concerns about international handling lover John Pierce’s use of borrowed cash, setting off a sequence of large-profile disputes among the agency, its associates and former funders.
Pierce Bainbridge contends that Lewis was fired for violating the conditions of his administrative depart while an outside the house firm investigated Kyle’s promises of harassment, assault and retaliation. Very last calendar year, Pierce Bainbridge responded with its individual lawsuit, accusing Lewis of trying to extort $65 million from the organization. That lawsuit has due to the fact been dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.
Kyle’s attorneys from Wigdor mentioned Lewis had “dragged” their shopper into the “food fight” with Pierce Bainbridge to punish her for elevating the allegations in the to start with area. The criticism cited “baseless accusations and imprecise, bellicose character assassination” in Lewis’ court filings discrediting Kyle and her variation of events.
In accordance to the grievance, Kyle experienced hoped to continue to be out of the dispute, right up until she was determined in community courtroom filings and Lewis named her as a “discovery defendant” to a lawsuit.
“She tried to extricate herself, to no avail,” Wigdor attorneys Lawrence Pearson and Lindsay Goldbrum wrote in the 26-site criticism.
“Finally, Ms. Kyle concluded that she had no choice but to actively search for solutions and redress from both Mr. Lewis and Pierce Bainbridge for the harassment, assault, retaliation and tortious carry out that she has been pressured to undergo and persevere by way of in excess of the previous two yrs,” they reported.
The lawsuit accused Lewis and Pierce Bainbridge of discrimination and retaliation under New York’s Human Legal rights Legislation. Lewis was also accused of defamation and defamation for every se, and the company was accused of aiding and abetting the alleged abuses.
In a assertion Thursday, Lewis, who is Black, called the allegations in Kyle’s grievance “a full fabrication, abject lies” and a “disgraceful and racist weaponization of #MeToo [that] undermines actual victims and detracts from a serious cause.”
“The untrue accuser, previously employed at Pierce Bainbridge, now utilized at Hecht Companions, has an odd very long-time romance with David Hecht, just one of quite a few concerns that will now be exposed,” Lewis claimed. “I’ve potent rationale to believe that that she has been weaponized and used by both legislation corporations exactly where Hecht has been in a administration part to deflect from my publicity of really troubling issues.”
John Pierce and Pierce Bainbridge mentioned in a statement that “all people today who report allegations of sexual harassment or assault are entitled to to have these allegations entirely investigated and have their day in court docket.”
“We also stand in agency opposition to any person who makes an attempt to retaliate. Ms. Kyle did a terrific occupation for Pierce Bainbridge. She warrants justice and to be able to transfer on with her existence once these allegations are litigated. We will entirely cooperate with the judicial process,” the assertion said.
Hecht Associates spokesman in a different assertion shot down as “sexist and misogynistic” Lewis’ promises that Kyle was staying made use of by the organization or its former associates.
“We stand powering all victims of sexual assault, like Ms. Kyle, a minority female, who should be afforded their working day in courtroom,” the spokesman explained. “It is essential that the form of retaliation that Lewis has engaged in does not discourage courageous victims from coming forward.”
According to the grievance, Kyle described the misconduct allegations in October 2018, following she discovered that Lewis was currently being promoted to assigning spouse, a placement she stated would put him in a placement of authority about women of all ages at the firm.
Lewis, a former Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom affiliate who worked in-home at WeWork before joining Pierce Bainbridge, was then placed on leave, although lawyers from Putney Twombly Hall & Hirson investigated Kyle’s promises.
In accordance to the filing, previous name lover Carolynn Beck later on advised Kyle in an email that the “weight of the evidence” supported her allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation, and mentioned that Lewis experienced “exercised poor judgment by crossing personalized and expert boundaries.”
Pierce Bainbridge has reported that Lewis was fired right after he violated the terms of his leave by sending a “mass email” to associates that named his accuser and disparaged the men and women and function of the organization.
Lewis, for his section, has claimed in his very own lawsuit that Kyle’s allegations were being “demonstrably false” statements from a “junior level personnel who was applied as a pawn by Pierce and Beck.”
In his assertion, Lewis mentioned he seemed forward to a “public airing” of the challenges in the conditions and to clearing his identify.
“John Pierce and Carolynn Beck, now at Goldstein & McClintock, will have loads of issues to respond to as nicely. Motivated by greed, and relying on racism, the wrongdoers have produced their beds,” he stated.
Beck did not immediately react to a ask for for remark.
Pierce Bainbridge has suffered a sequence of significant departures in current months, which includes Beck and previous title partners Maxim Cost and David Hecht.
A spokeswoman for Pierce Bainbridge verified in March that Pierce was on leave from the organization following an investigation found that he had borrowed funds from an unconventional funding source for his possess particular use. That loan company, Karish Kapital, submitted a lien versus Pierce and the organization in late February.
Pierce, however, has refuted that version of situations, expressing that he briefly placed himself on go away from the firm to endure therapy for compound abuse and addiction.
“I am and have normally been the 100% operator and sole fairness husband or wife of Pierce Bainbridge and no one had or has the electric power to position me on depart or to carry out any type of ‘internal investigation’ about me,” he reported on Thursday.
Regulation.com reported in March that the Pierce Bainbridge’s attorney, Marc Mukasey, sought to withdraw from representing the organization in its ongoing struggle with Lewis. The business was also sued by an entity called West Coast Business Capital, which reported the business reneged on a substantial-possibility, significant-return funding agreement.
The business has also been sued by another high-hazard financial institution, recognized as a merchant hard cash progress organization. Slate Advance LLC claimed in a grievance filed in Nassau County Supreme Court docket on March 17 that it innovative $500,000 to Pierce Bainbridge in November 2019 in exchange for 13% of the firm’s receipts just about every week until it had paid out back again $749,500.
The business borrowed a smaller sized total in January and defaulted on the bargains in February and March, owing extra than $230,000, Slate stated.
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