This time last year, Leon Black, the then CEO and cofounder of private-equity giant Apollo Global Management, was one of the most powerful men on Wall Street and a pillar of New York society. The then 69-year-old billionaire was board chairman of the Museum of Modern Art, a trustee of Mount Sinai Hospital, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Today, in new court documents, a former model is accusing Black of violently raping her at Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse in 2002.
The woman, identified in the documents as “Jane Doe,” says Epstein arranged for her to give a $300 massage to Black when she was a financially struggling single mother living in New Jersey. But instead, she alleges, Black brutally assaulted her shortly after they entered the massage room on the third floor of Epstein’s mansion. A number of weeks later, she claims, Black paid her $5,000 cash to “help with her credit card debt.” The suit says Doe didn’t report the rape at the time because a friend warned her no one would believe her.
“This claim is complete fiction and has no basis in fact or law,” a Black spokesperson said in a statement. “It is telling that it is asserted anonymously and concerns events that allegedly occurred some 20 years ago. We expect that the courts will see this bogus claim for what it is.”
The harrowing new allegation is included in documents filed today in New York Supreme Court by a former Russian model named Guzel Ganieva. In June, Ganieva sued Black for defamation after Black publicly denied Ganieva’s claims that Black “sexually harassed and abused” her. Ganieva’s lawsuit included allegations that linked Black to Epstein’s sex trafficking ring for the first time. It claimed that Black flew Ganieva to Palm Beach to have sex with Epstein in October 2008, when Epstein was serving time in a Florida jail for soliciting sex from a minor. The suit further alleged that Black made frequent comments about Epstein’s sexual depravity, including that Epstein flew “very young girls” aboard his private plane and that Epstein made money because “he takes care of the little girls” and was “doing a great job with it.”
On September 8, Black’s lawyers filed a 72-page answer to Ganieva’s suit that vehemently denied her allegations, including that Black trafficked Ganieva to Palm Beach to have sex with Epstein. Black’s filing stated that Black had irrefutable evidence that bolstered his denial, including extensive correspondence and flight records; third-party testimony from Epstein assistant Sarah Kellen; and an alleged audio recording in which Ganieva denied ever meeting Epstein. “While a lurid potboiler starring Jeffrey Epstein may be good for grabbing tabloid headlines, the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence in this case betrays the utter falsity of these allegations,” Black’s court filing said.
Black’s spokesperson on Monday accused Wigdor LLP, the firm representing Ganieva, of “having failed in their first attempt to destroy Mr. Black’s reputation” and “now manufacturing new false allegations.” “They will be shown to be as false and defamatory as the last set Wigdor filed,” the spokesperson added. “It is clear that the only goal here is to publicly destroy Mr. Black’s personal and professional reputation and to defame him by embarking on a baseless smear campaign. Mr. Black is confident that those who have abused the court process so egregiously will be held responsible.”
Black has been on a downward spiral since January, when he announced he would resign as CEO of Apollo. An investigation commissioned by Apollo’s board revealed that Black had paid Epstein $158 million for “tax advice” between 2012 and 2017—after Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl. The consensus on Wall Street was that it was a preposterous sum to pay for even the most sophisticated estate planning.
Black has maintained throughout that his relationship with Epstein was strictly professional and that, while they socialized together, he knew nothing about Epstein’s sex crimes. “I was completely unaware of Mr. Epstein’s abhorrent misconduct that came to light in late 2018,” Black said in January, adding: “I did not engage in any wrongdoing or inappropriate conduct.” Epstein died in jail in 2019.
But Ganieva’s lawyer, Jeanne Christensen, says in the documents that the Jane Doe accusation demonstrates that “Ms. Ganieva was not the only woman who endured this specific sexual violence at the hands of Black.” The filing—which a judge must approve adding to Ganieva’s lawsuit, something that is granted in a majority of cases—describes the alleged assault in graphic and disturbing detail. It claims that after entering the massage room at Epstein’s house, Black attempted to give Doe oral sex, which he allegedly called “the delicacy of kings.” When she refused, the filing alleges, he pushed her over the side of the massage table and penetrated her vagina with what seemed to be an object. “She experienced tearing pain. Ms. Doe was in such agony that she could barely speak or breathe. She had never experienced anything like that before,” the suit says.