Actor exposes modelling industry: ‘Like sex trafficking’

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Reacher star Alan Ritchson has candidly spoken about the traumatic experience he had working as a model early on in his career, saying the industry was “not regulated” and could be compared to “legalised sex trafficking.”

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Ritchson said sexual harassment and assault were rampant in the industry and he was often put in “horrific environments” when he was booked for jobs.

He revealed that he quit the industry after he was sexually assaulted by a photographer during a photoshoot.

“I was working a lot at the time, and was one of the highest paid models at the agency. I was booked for a shoot for this very famous photographer. I was sent into a hotel room to do nudes with the promise that if I did the shoot, he would offer me a very lucrative campaign for a magazine and a clothing line. I was sexually assaulted by this guy,” he said.

Ritchson then recalled driving “straight to the agency” in Los Angeles to confront his agent, who he believes “knew what was going to happen” and still booked him for the job. Ritchson said the experience spurred him to quit modelling altogether, but it “left some scars.”

“I told them to never call me again. I quit the industry and it was the last photo shoot I’ve ever had. Those pictures were never seen or published. That was it,” he said. “I swore it off and thank God acting found me at the exact same time so I was able to make a switch to a new career.”

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The actor revealed that he was put in similar situations “quiet often” as a model, where he claimed “sexual abuse was the goal and the paycheck that you were desperate for in order to survive was the carrot.”

But Ritchson had a similarly uncomfortable experience later on after he began acting full-time. Ritchson was invited to attend Paris Fashion Week, where he claims he was sexually harassed by prolific photographer Mario Testino.

“He wouldn’t keep his hands off me,” Ritchson said of the photographer. “The entire time we were sitting at dinner, he was trying to rub my crotch under the table. I was like, ‘Get your hands off me, dude.’… But he was entertained by it. He thought it was the funniest thing.”

He added, “He wouldn’t leave me alone. I ended up leaving early, but he called my hotel room later that night and begged me to come over… He was disappointed that I wouldn’t come to his place.”

The photographer allegedly offered him a cover of Vogue in exchange for sex.

As THR noted in their reporting, Testino and Bruce Weber were both accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of male models and assistants four years after the alleged incident took place.

Ritchson, who acknowledged that he “had problems with both of them,” admitted that he contemplated coming forward at the time with his own experiences.

“Some of the stories were just like mine. I was just starting to build a platform and get my voice in the business, and I wondered, ‘Should I say something?’” he said. “Because all of the stories that those models were telling were my own. It’s all true.”

This article originally appeared in Decider and was reproduced with permission