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terry richardson
Via Flickr / Dave Tada

Terry Richardson denies sexual abuse allegations

The controversial photographer writes open letter rebutting claims of inappropriate behaviour

Terry Richardson has written an open letter (seriously, who hasn't) refuting claims that he has systematically abused models during his career as one of the world's leading fashion photographers. According to Richardson, he is the subject of a witchhunt by "angry internet crusades" that are based on "lies" and "rumours".    

"Sadly, in the on-going quest for controversy-generated page views, sloppy journalism fuelled by sensationalized, malicious, and manipulative recountings of (my) work has given rise to angry Internet crusades," he writes on the Huffington Post. "Well-intentioned or not, they are based on lies. Believing such rumors at face value does a disservice not only to the spirit of artistic endeavor, but most importantly, to the real victims of exploitation and abuse."

Last week, Vocativ published model Charlotte Waters' account of working with the photographer, in which she alleges that Richardson had "run his tongue up and down her bare ass, demanded she squeeze his balls, and even jacked off into her eye" within an hour of her arriving for the shoot. Waters originally told her story anonymously on Reddit, but decided to go public as she believed the abuse "will likely continue to happen until his dick falls off". 

Accusations of inappropriate sexual behaviour have dogged Richardson since 2010, when Jezebel published several accounts from models who came forward with their stories. Richardson has never responded to these claims until now. 

"I have never used an offer of work or a threat of rebuke to coerce someone into something that they did not want to do," he states. "I can only hope for this discourse to be informed by fact, so that whether you love my work or hate it, you give it, and me, the benefit of the truth."

You can read the full letter here.