A woman claims billionaire Leon Black raped her in a "brutal attack" at the Manhattan home of Jeffrey Epstein. In a lawsuit filed Monday, Cheri Pierson says she was "in desperate need of money" when she agreed to massage the co-founder and former CEO of Apollo Global Management for $300 in 2002, per the Daily Beast. But the encounter turned violent, leaving her "swollen, torn, and bleeding" and "in excruciating pain," Pierson claims, per CNN. She's suing Black and Epstein's estate under a new law in New York that gives survivors of sexual assault one year to sue their alleged abusers regardless of whether the statute of limitations has expired—the same law E. Jean Carroll is using to sue Donald Trump.
Pierson claims Ghislaine Maxwell first introduced her to Epstein when she was a struggling adult single mother, though she "looked much younger than her age." She says she gave several massages to Epstein, during which he would masturbate, per the Beast. She adds Epstein passed "several" women to Black, including some with whom Black was involved sexually "for more than a decade, including through the present." A longtime friend of Epstein, Black paid the convicted sex offender some $158 million for estate and tax planning advice between 2012 and 2017. After their encounter, Pierson says Black repeatedly called her, saying he felt "bad" and "wanted to talk," and later gave her $5,000 at a bar, per CNN. She says he asked to see her again but she refused.
"We look forward to holding Black and Epstein's estate accountable for their appalling unlawful conduct," says Pierson lawyer Jeanne Christensen of law firm Wigdor, per the Daily Beast. Christensen also represents Black's former girlfriend Guzel Ganieva, who claimed he "forced sadistic sexual acts on her without her consent" in a 2021 lawsuit, per the Wall Street Journal. The suit referred to Pierson's allegations, but it identified her only as Jane Doe. Black countersued Ganieva and Wigdor, claiming the account was "a wholesale fiction" meant to "harm and humiliate him," per the Journal and Beast. His lawyer now claims Pierson's allegations are "categorically false" and part of the same "scheme to extort money from Mr. Black by threatening to destroy his reputation," per CNN. (Read more Leon Black stories.)