I met him while I was working at the Mall. He approached me and gave me his business card. He said he worked with a company in New York called Portfolio. He thought I had real potential and wanted to work with me. I was 18 years old and very naive. I had graduated Modeling school and was working a few jobs. I thought this was my big break.
The first step he instructed was to create a portfolio and when it was finished, he would send me out to agencies. We spent the next year or so doing photo shoots, building my portfolio, and building trust and friendship, so I thought. Eventually, he convinced me that I needed lingerie pictures in my collection. I had to show that I was versatile. I was uncomfortable and unsure. He bought me alcohol to ease my worry.
He increasingly became controlling. There was a woman and her husband that I used to hang out with and drink beers. He lectured me about hanging out with successful people and he didn’t want me to see this woman anymore. He even had someone call me that claimed to be the actress Mia Sara, to lecture me as well. He said he knew Justine Batemen too and was going to have her call me; but she never did. When I went to hang out with this woman again, she was gone. Her apartment was empty. I didn’t know what happened. Could he have made her go away?
He also started to become very mean. When I suffered from a miscarriage, he forced me to do a photo shoot the very next day in the middle of Boston. I was emotional and bleeding and he didn’t care. He explained I had to learn how to work despite the circumstances. During photo shoots, he made me work for hours on end, without breaks. We would go away for weekends for location shoots. He never made inappropriate advances; but, there was something very wrong, and even my naive self knew it.
I finally asked when was my portfolio ever going to be finished, trying to call his bluff. He soon presented me with a contract to move to Japan and work for a year. I was afraid. My mind and nerves were frazzled by this point. My rebellious nature was fed up and I felt I had to try and back away from him. Something wasn’t right.
I brought my portfolio to a local modeling agency, that was run by two women. They sat me down and gently questioned the lingerie picture. They explained that I didn’t need this in my portfolio. I unleashed and in tears, I told them the whole story about the man I had been working with. They took it upon themselves to investigate. A few days later, they called me into the office and said that he was not who he claimed to be and didn’t work for Portfolio like his card stated. Then they nervously went on, and said he was wanted for child pornography, rape and possibly murder!
For the next three days, he parked outside of my apartment. I was terrified. I thought to myself. I got out just in time. What would have happened if I had gone to Japan, surely never to be seen again. Then he disappeared. I never heard from him again. I never knew what happened, Was he prosecuted? Was it true?
About five years ago a picture of me that he took surfaced on the internet. It wasn’t an inappropriate picture but just the thought of him made my heart race with anxiety. The picture was listed under a different company and I couldn’t find more than his name for the pic credit anywhere. I was concerned that he was back in business and could be dangerous; but, I din’t know what to do. I just buried it too afraid to revisit.
Last week his name came up again when the family of Carrie Moss contacted me to ask about him. Carrie dated my brother in the eighties. In 1989 she went missing and her remains were found in 1991. Unfortunately, due to decomposition the case was never solved, and her family is still trying to piece it together in hopes of some peace. It’s a very sad story. My sister had mentioned to them, this photographer I worked with and now they wanted to know more.
Shaken, first, I googled him. Much to my surprise he became quite successful. I found a video from nine years ago, with NBC interviewing him about his art. Just seeing him made me nauseous. I wondered, did he turn his life around? I thought, he finally got what he wanted, success. Then I found his obituary from 2014. Only 55 years old and died suddenly. A part of me was instantly relieved. I felt safe. A little more research and I found a collection of pics of him and various celebrities. Justine Batemen was one of them. It wasn’t a pic of them together, just her. Did he really know her? Where was the info on the crimes he was accused of? Was he innocent? Did he buy his innocence? An array of mixed emotions washed over me.
I broke down and cried and cried, releasing years of fear, pain, betrayal and anger. I was a young woman who was made to feel that all I had to offer was sexual images. I was betrayed by a person who I thought was my friend. I was in shock and terror for so long. I hashed it out in therapy and then wrote Carrie’s family back. Realistically, he is a logical suspect. I still don’t know what to think about it all. My therapist assures me that it’s not the narrative of the story that offers closure; but instead it is the young 18-19yr old inside of me that needs to be heard.
Only by embracing her thoughts and feelings will I be able to put this behind me. I am hoping the more I write about it and share, the healing will happen, and this model’s nightmare will be put to rest.