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Who is Cheri Pierson? Single mom sues Leon Black after billionaire allegedly raped her at Jeffrey Epstein’s home

According to the lawsuit, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell advised Cheri Pierson that she ought to meet Jeffrey Epstein over the phone
UPDATED NOV 29, 2022
The lone mother was invited to Jeffrey Epstein's (R) Upper East Side residence in 2002, where Leon Black (L) allegedly assaulted her sexually (Yahoo Finance/ YouTube, Florida Department of Law Enforcement via Getty Images)
The lone mother was invited to Jeffrey Epstein's (R) Upper East Side residence in 2002, where Leon Black (L) allegedly assaulted her sexually (Yahoo Finance/ YouTube, Florida Department of Law Enforcement via Getty Images)

WARNING: This article contains content about sexual abuse that some readers may find distressing. Discretion is advised.

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK: A single mother opened up about billionaire businessman Leon Black violently raping her at the command of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. In a case submitted on Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court, Cheri Pierson asserts that she was invited to Epstein's Upper East Side residence in 2002, where Black allegedly assaulted her after she gave him a massage. 

Daily Mail reported, according to court records, she alleges that while she was a poor single mother in New Jersey at the time, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell approached her and asked her to give Epstein massages in exchange for money that she "desperately needed."


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Daily Mail reports that according to the lawsuit, Black, the founder of Apollo Global Management was eventually introduced to the lone mom Pierson by Epstein. After that, it continues into graphic detail about how he reportedly held her "upside down like a rag doll" while biting her vagina, leaving her to bleed. Pierson's allegations were originally made in a different lawsuit charging Black, 71, of sexual misconduct, under the alias "Jane Doe." A Russian beauty accused the billionaire of being a "violent, sadistic" sex offender when she filed the lawsuit last year. Black, who has an estimated $10 billion in wealth, has refuted these allegations and maintained that he had a consensual relationship with the model. Since then, he has sued her for defamation in a different lawsuit. The charges made in the most recent case, according to his attorney Susan Estrich, are now being used as part of yet another sophisticated "extortion" plan and are "baseless." 

According to the lawsuit, which DailyMail was able to obtain, Pierson was finding it difficult to survive while working as a receptionist in Midtown Manhattan for a low income when a "woman of Ukrainian descent" advised her that she "needed to meet this rich man." According to the report, she initially disregarded the woman's calls but soon began getting calls from a "woman named Maxwell, with a British accent." According to the lawsuit, "Maxwell" advised Pierson that she ought to meet Epstein over the phone. It reads, "Maxwell implied that she knew Ms. Pierson needed money and suggested that as a powerful businessman Epstein was someone that could "help" Ms. Pierson."

Maxwell was arrested on July 2, 2020, and is one of the few remaining links investigators have to Epstein (US Attorney Office)
Maxwell was arrested on July 2, 2020, and is one of the few remaining links investigators have to Epstein (US Attorney Office)

The mother finally gave in and consented to meet with Epstein to talk about the debut of a skincare brand she wished to create. Epstein allegedly informed her while she was there, "I am a massage s***...I get two to three massages a day; lots of women do it and they do it very well." According to reports, he offered Pierson $300 to give him a 20-minute massage in a bikini, which she allegedly accepted at least four times. The lawsuit claims "Disgustingly, Epstein masturbated and wanted her to perform oral sex on him as part of the massage, but each time she refused." "Epstein was not happy and said she needed "to do more."'

In another case, the lawsuit claims, Pierson hosted a gathering at his mansion following the September 11 terrorist strikes. The suit reads, "'The event stands out in her mind because Epstein made a vulgar and disgusting remark about the young models stranded in NYC after September 11, 2001." it added, "'Specifically, Epstein began talking about how bad it was for foreign models who had come for Fashion Week and now could not leave. He said that the modeling agencies had stranded these women with no help or money.
'Disgustingly, Epstein remarked that these young girls, mostly teenagers, were in such dire financial straits that they would take $100 to "get f***** up the a**."

A residence belonging to Jeffrey Epstein at East 71st street is seen on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on July 8, 2019 in New York City. According to reports, Epstein is charged with running a sex-trafficking operation out of his opulent mansion.
A residence of Jeffrey Epstein at East 71st street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

Eventually, according to the lawsuit, Epstein informed her that one of his pals could 'help' her financially and extended an invitation to his Upper East Side townhouse in 2002. He wouldn't say who the private equity tycoon was, but he did say he was married. According to the lawsuit, when Pierson arrived, she first saw Epstein downstairs, before the three of them went up to his third-floor massage parlor, where she would subsequently find that the man was Leon Black. She had assumed that, as per her agreement with Epstein, she would massage Black and receive $300. However, the lawsuit claims that throughout the session, Black—who was said to have kept his socks on—"insisted that he wanted to orally copulate Ms. Pierson and urged her to get on the massage table."

The suit reads, as cited by Daily Mail, "As she stood there panicked, not knowing what to do, Black used his massive body (6'4" and 300lbs) and his superior strength to overwhelm, take by surprise and force Ms. Pierson into a position where she was rendered physically helpless." Black later "used the edge of the massage table as a fulcrum to leverage his physical power and to disable her,' flipping her 'upside down like a ragdoll." It says, "She recalls Black making vulgar and disgusting comments, but her immediate fear was smashing the top of her skull into the hard floor if Black wanted to,' the suit continues, noting how blood rushed to her head and 'she felt like she could not breathe, was dizzy and may have temporarily lost consciousness."

According to the lawsuit, Pierson recalls "desperately yelling and screaming, but is unsure what words came out in her upside-down state." She claimed that she attempted to escape Black's "vicious grip," but was unsuccessful. The suit claims, "Unquestionably, he knew she did not consent." According to the court documents, Black bit her during the alleged rape, causing "excruciating pain." After that, while they were both outside, the former MOMA chairman allegedly said to her, "Black, my name is Leo Black," before getting into a town vehicle and driving away. The result was a "vagina [that] was grossly swollen, torn, and bleeding," according to Pierson, who at the time lacked health insurance. To soothe the discomfort, she claims to have used ice, taken baths, and used over-the-counter medications to "help with the pain and to prevent infection from the cuts and tears." The suit claims that it was unpleasant and challenging for her to urinate for several weeks. 

Black is being sued by Pierson, who is currently residing in Virginia, for sexual assault and other offenses. She also accuses Epstein's estate of carelessness in her lawsuit, and she names it. She is seeking unspecified damages. Pierson was able to file the lawsuit under the recently passed Adult Survivors Act, which permits adult victims of sexual assault to do so within a year of the alleged crimes, regardless of whether the statute of limitations has run, New York Post reports. In a statement, Pierson's attorney Jeanne Christensen said, "Thanks to the passage of the Adult Survivor’s Act, survivors of sexual violence like our client Ms. Pierson can seek the justice they deserve no matter how many years ago their trauma was suffered." He added, "We look forward to holding Black and Epstein’s estate accountable for their appalling unlawful conduct as alleged in the complaint by our client."