In a sweeping new sexual misconduct investigation, The New York Times reported Saturday that several male models have accused the famed photographer of unwanted advances and coercion.
Testino had been the “front-runner” to take the wedding portraits, according to British daily The Telegraph, but has now been disqualified following allegations of sexual harassment.
Testino, adored by celebrities, glossy magazines including Vogue, became the Royal family’s preferred photographer after taking the last official portraits of Princess Diana before her death in 1997. Prince William and Kate Middleton chose Testino for their engagement in 2010 and picked him as photographer for their daughter princess Charlotte’s christening pictures in 2015.
The law firm representing Testino challenged the character and credibility of people who complained of harassment.
Testino’s attorney, Andrew Brettler, said in an email to The Associated Press late Saturday, “We are not providing any further comment at this time.”
Model Ryan Locke worked with Testino on Gucci ad campaigns and called him a “sexual predator.” He told the Times that when he told other models he was going to meet Testino for a possible casting “everyone started making these jokes — they said he was notorious, and ‘tighten your belt.’“
On the last day of a shoot, as they were taking photographs on a bed, Testino told everybody in the room to leave and locked the door, Locke recalled.
“Then he crawls on the bed, climbs on top of me and says, ‘I’m the girl, you’re the boy,’” Locke said. “I went at him, like, you better get away. I threw the towel on him, put my clothes on and walked out.”
Former assistants said Testino had a pattern of hiring young, heterosexual men and subjecting them to increasingly aggressive advances.
“Sexual harassment was a constant reality,” said Roman Barrett, an assistant to Testino in the late 1990s who said the photographer rubbed up against his leg with an erection and masturbated in front of him.
Several industries have been rocked by sexual-abuse allegations since women started coming forward to complain about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who has apologized for causing colleagues “a lot of pain” but has denied “any allegations of non-consensual sex.”
Revelations of abuse often have faded away in the fashion industry. Recently, photographer Terry Richardson continued to work after being accused in a documentary of sexual assault of female models and denying their claims — until the Weinstein scandal broke.
Conde Nast, which publishes Vogue and other top magazines, said it would stop working with Testino, at least for now.