Brett Ratner Accused By 7 Women Of Sexual Harassment, Sues Melanie Kohler For Libel
Director Brett Ratner is suing Melanie Kohler for libel after she claimed he raped her over a decade ago.
BRETT RATNER SUING WOMAN FOR LIBEL
Kohler posted a Facebook status making the claim, more than a week before the Los Angeles Times published a report in which six women accused Ratner of sexual harassment or assault. Actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge were named in the report, but Kohler was not.
According to Ratner’s suit, Kohler posted to Facebook on Oct. 20 saying that Ratner “was a rapist on at least one night in Hollywood about 12 years ago,” and claims he “preyed on me as a drunk girl [and] forced himself upon me.” Ratner filed a complaint Wednesday in Hawaii federal court denying the allegation and calling the social media post libel per se. The director’s legal counsel Eric Seitz argues that the statements by Kohler are fictional and that Kohler published them with malicious intent. Ratner is suing for damages and claims he has suffered emotional distress as a result, as well as having harm done to his reputation.
Kohler is not the only defendant named in the lawsuit. The document lists 10 unnamed defendants and refers to them as “associates, co-actors, partners, officers, employees, agents and/or representatives of the named defendant whose true names and capacities are as yet unknown to plaintiff despite due diligence and inquiry.”
Another of Ratner’s lawyers, Martin Singer, denied all allegations on the director’s behalf. “I have represented Mr. Ratner for two decades, and no woman has ever made a claim against him for sexual misconduct or sexual harassment,” Singer said in a 10-page letter to the Los Angeles Times. “Furthermore, no woman has ever requested or received any financial settlement from my client.”
Munn came forward with her accounts of assault in 2010, but did not name Ratner. She has since come forward in the wake of the hundreds of women speaking out to name their abusers. She described an instance in which Ratner masturbated in front of her in his trailer on a 2004 set, and later that he claimed he had “banged” her, a claim he later retracted. Later still, Munn alleges that Ratner ran into her at an industry party and that he bragged about ejaculating on magazine covers featuring Munn.
“I’ve made specific, conscientious choices not to work with Brett Ratner,” Munn told the Times. “It feels as if I keep going up against the same bully at school who just won’t quit. You just hope that enough people believe the truth and for enough time to pass so that you can’t be connected to him anymore.”
— om (@oliviamunn) November 1, 2017
As for Henstridge, the actress said Ratner cornered her in his apartment and forced her to perform oral sex on him. “He strong-armed me in a real way. He physically forced himself on me,” she said. “At some point, I gave in and he did his thing.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Ratner and Warner Bros. parted ways – they had a first-look deal. “In light of the allegations being made, I am choosing to personally step away from all Warner Bros.-related activities,” Ratner said. “I don’t want to have any possible negative impact to the studio until these personal issues are resolved.” For their part, Warner Bros. says the deal will not be renewed.