Who is Jonathan Leder? The erotic photographer was accused of sexual assault by Emily Ratajkowski

Leder, who reportedly began dabbling in photography from the age of 15, photographed Ratajkowski in 2012. She detailed how she posed nude as well as in lingerie before, she claims, she was assaulted on his couch


                            Who is Jonathan Leder? The erotic photographer was accused of sexual assault by Emily Ratajkowski
Emily Ratajkowski (Getty Images)

In an essay she wrote for The Cut on Tuesday, September 15, American model and actress Emily Ratajkowski accused photographer Jonathan Leder of sexually assaulting her while he was capturing her at his home in 2012. The 29-year-old said that eight years ago she had traveled to Leder’s home in the Catskills in New York for an unpaid editorial shoot, which was set up by her then agent.

She detailed how she posed nude as well as in lingerie before, she claims, she was assaulted as she sat together with the photographer on his couch. Ratajkowski said that she remembered drinking an ample amount of red wine and was “very, very drunk” by the end of the night.

“I was cold, shivering, and huddled under a blanket. Jonathan and I were on his couch, and the rough texture of his jeans rubbed against my bare legs,” Ratajkowski wrote, noting how Leder asked her about her “boyfriends”. 

Emily Ratajkowski. (Getty Images)

 

Ratajkowski said, “Most of what came next was a blur except for the feeling. I don’t remember kissing, but I do remember his fingers suddenly being inside of me. Harder and harder and pushing and pushing like no one had touched me before or has touched me since. I could feel the shape of myself and my ridges, and it really, really hurt. I brought my hand instinctively to his wrist and pulled his fingers out of me with force. I didn’t say a word. He stood up abruptly and scurried silently into the darkness up the stairs.”

She said that after the couch episode, she went to the room where she had posed for the photoshoot, to sleep. She said she was “confused as to why Jonathan had left without a word and terrified that he would come back”.

When Leder was approached by The Cut to comment on the assault accusations, he chose not to comment, citing the allegations “too tawdry and childish to respond to”. But he said, “You do know who we are talking about right? This is the girl that was naked in Treats! magazine, and bounced around naked in the Robin Thicke video at that time. You really want someone to believe she was a victim?”

So, who is Jonathan Leder?

There is little information out there about the American photographer, who does erotic photography. According to a profile of Leder on AnatomyFilms, he reportedly began dabbling in photography from the age of 15 years. It wasn’t until he was about 24 when he returned from Europe that he started working for Steven Klein. There, he was exposed to a lot of fashion photography. While he lived in Brooklyn, AnatomyFilms states he started his own publication, Jacques Magazine. He reportedly did not begin his own body of work until he moved to Woodstock in 2011. 

Several of his photobooks have been published by Imperial Publishing, a New York-based company founded in 2012 by Leder and producer Hunter Stephenson. A part of the company is also Imperial Pictures LTD Films, that according to its Vimeo profile, specializes in medium length and feature-length content, recontextualizing thrillers and chillers for a global digital audience. 

Emily Ratajkowski. (Getty Images)

In 2016, Ratajkowski had accused Leder of publishing her nude pictures without her consent. At the time, the photographer was releasing a book that contained the pictures of Ratajkowski. She said: “My lawyer argued that Jonathan had no right to use the images beyond their agreed-upon usage. When I agreed to shoot with Jonathan, I had consented only for the photos to be printed in the magazine they were intended for."

But on the Imperial Publishing website, a different story is told. The website for the “internationally acclaimed fine art photo book publisher”, which specializes in limited edition collectible artist editions and erotica, states, “We are all deeply disturbed to read Ms. Ratajkowski’s latest false statements to NY Mag in her never-ending search for press and publicity. In 2016 Ms. Ratajkowski tried to stop publication of Imperial's books. We have every legal right to publish our books of Ms. Ratajkowski - despite what she tries to maintain to the press. Thank you for your support.”

The page detailing ‘Emily Ratajkowski collectors Edition’, priced at $75, notes, “In May 2012, photographer Jonathan Leder found himself alone in a house with a Polaroid camera and Emily Ratajkowski. This was before the black-haired, red-lipped stunner had shot to fame with her undeniably sexy performance in Robin Thicke’s arguably sexist ‘Blurred Lines’ video. Leder wasn’t shooting her because she was a celebrity. He’d simply seen something in her previous work that made him think this L.A. model wasn’t like all the others.”

Emily Ratajkowski. (Getty Images)

“She was very, shall we say, comfortable with her body,” Leder wrote in the foreword for the book. “And as far as shoots go, I would say it was fun.” 

In an interview with High Snobiety, Leder addressed Ratajkowski's allegations in 2017. He said, "I don’t have much to say. I think it would have been smarter for her to get behind the photos and embrace them. I know many, many people love these photos, and in my personal opinion, many of them are very beautiful. The people that love these photos are her fans. She looks great, and it was a special moment in time. In the end, the photos are very human, and I think that is what people respond to."

What is worth noting is that the website for Imperial Publishing seems to no longer feature a page about Leder. When one clicks on the link, it says, “The page you requested does not exist anymore. Sorry about that.” Whether or not this page was deleted in the aftermath of the allegations is something MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) has not been able to establish. 

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