Innocent until proven guilty. Creepy until an alleged assaulter. Combined, these truisms represent the continuum of American justice from its implementation to the present day. Unfortunately for Mr. Richardson, he appears caught in their snare; reports broke yesterday that the NYPD Special Victims Squad is seeking various models for “sit-down meetings” to discuss his alleged misconduct over the years.
The development follows an article published in The Daily News on December 14, in which former South African model Caron Bernstein detailed a 2003 incident in which ‘Uncle Terry’ “exposed his penis and forced himself into her mouth.” She had come to his office to discuss a possible shoot with the photographer who had told a mutual friend that he was “a fan.” In her mid-30s and past her modeling ‘prime,’ Ms. Bernstein was eager to promote her recent venture into music.After initial discussions, however, Mr. Richardson decided to forego the formalities of a table separating the two and came to her side, beginning to snap a few shots of the former model before revealing his genitals. As the alleged attack occurred, Ms. Bernstein recalled, her “brain just went on pause,” a typical response to a traumatic event. She further recalled lingering guilt for not “fighting him off,” laying bare the psychological intricacies of experiencing sexual assault at the hands of a ‘superior.’
Mr. Richardson’s camp, meanwhile, alleges through their lawyer that “Ms. Bernstein knowingly and willingly posed for these photographs,” and thus “any contact she had with Mr. Richardson was consensual.” While Ms. Bernstein corroborates that she had indeed agreed to pose topless–a former lingerie model, she was comfortable in the nude–she nonetheless holds that Terry crossed the line with his actions.Negatives obtained by the Daily News, furthermore, show images of semen–most likely Mr. Richardson’s–on Ms. Bernstein’s breasts, with her face cropped out. While for Terry’s lawyer, Brad D. Rose, this is evidence of “the extremely sexual nature of the shoot as well as Ms. Bernstein’s willing participation in the explicit acts depicted,” for others it is merely a gruesome detail in yet another sordid affair in which Mr. Richardson appears to confuse his own sexual desires for that of his viewers’. Either way, as Ms. Bernstein’s apparent distress makes clear, something went wrong and calls for remedy; whether that will involve criminal charges or not we will soon find out.