Emily Ratajkowski says photographer touched her inappropriately in new essay

The 29-year-old recalls an experience from her early 20s in a new essay for The Cut.
Street Style: February 20th - Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2020-2021
Emily Ratajkowski recalls an experience with photographer Jonathan Leder in a new essay.Edward Berthelot / WireImage
/ Source: TODAY

Emily Ratajkowski has accused photographer Jonathan Leder of touching her inappropriately when she traveled to his Woodstock, New York, home for a magazine photo shoot in 2012.

In a new essay for The Cut, the model opens up about the experience of posing nude and in lingerie during the shoot, and alleges that Leder inappropriately touched her later on in the night.

Once the photo shoot was over, the model says she found herself on a couch under a blanket with Leder. As they spoke about her dating history, Ratajkowski says she started to absentmindedly rub her feet together and against Leder's to stay warm.

"He told me he liked 'that foot thing you’re doing,' and I remember this moment more clearly than anything else. I hate that Jonathan commented on something I’ve done throughout my life to comfort myself. I hate that sometimes, even now, when I rub my feet together because I’m cold or afraid or exhausted, I think of Jonathan," she describes in the essay.

The 29-year-old wrote about what happened next, saying it was mostly "a blur except for the feeling."

"I don’t remember kissing, but I do remember his fingers suddenly being inside of me. Harder and harder and pushing and pushing like no one had touched me before or has touched me since. I could feel the shape of myself and my ridges, and it really, really hurt," she said. "I brought my hand instinctively to his wrist and pulled his fingers out of me with force. I didn’t say a word."

The model remembers Leder leaving then and going upstairs and feeling "terrified that he would come back."

"I never told anyone about what happened, and I tried not to think about it," she wrote.

Flash forward several years later and Ratajkowski learned that Leder was selling a book filled with risqué photographs he'd taken of her on that night. The model only recalled agreeing to release the photos to the magazine she'd been posing for and her lawyer quickly sent cease-and-desist letters to Leder's team and an art gallery that planned on hosting an exhibition of the photos.

Soon enough, her lawyer learned that Leder had supplied a copy of the release, which he said was signed by her former agent. When Ratajkowski's lawyer informed her that pursuing the lawsuit would be more costly than it was worth, she dropped it.

In the following years, Leder released several other books with images from the photo shoot and had another gallery show.

"I looked him up online occasionally; I almost felt like I was checking in on a part of me, the part of me he now owned. For years, while I built a career, he’d kept that Emily in the drawers of his creaky old house, waiting to whore her out. It was intoxicating to see what he’d done with this part of me he’d stolen," she wrote.

TODAY reached out to Leder for comment, but has not received a response.

In a statement to People, Leder’s publishing house responded to the claims: “We were all deeply disturbed to read Ms. Ratajkowski’s latest false statements to NY Magazine. While we understand that Ms. Ratajkowski no longer feels that the images represent her in the way she would like, and are probably detrimental to her career as an actress and celebrity, nonetheless, her recent accusations are based in fiction and not in fact, and the facts should matter."

"Mr. Leder completely denies her outrageous libelous allegations of being ’assaulted’," the statement added. "It is grotesque and sad that she is so vindictive about the publication of the photos."

Ratajkowski said she's contemplated suing the photographer, but has held off for now.

"I’m not convinced that spending any more of my resources on Jonathan would be money well spent. Eventually, Jonathan will run out of 'unseen' crusty Polaroids, but I will remain as the real Emily; the Emily who owns the high-art Emily, and the one who wrote this essay, too. She will continue to carve out control where she can find it," she wrote.