Male Models Say Mario Testino and Bruce Weber Sexually Exploited Them

In accounts going back to the mid-1990s, 13 male assistants and models who have worked with the photographer Mario Testino, a favorite of the English royal family and Vogue, told The Times that he subjected them to sexual advances that in some cases included groping and masturbation.

Representatives for both photographers said they were dismayed and surprised by the allegations.

“I’m completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny,” Mr. Weber said in a statement from his lawyer.

Lavely & Singer, a law firm that represents Mr. Testino, challenged the characters and credibility of people who complained of harassment, and also wrote that it had spoken to several former employees who were “shocked by the allegations” and that those employees “could not confirm any of the claims.”

Those who said they were on the receiving end of unwanted attention felt the choice was clear: acquiesce and be rewarded with lucrative ad campaign work, or reject the approach and risk hobbling, or destroying, a career. Many said they still would not speak publicly.

Photo

The photographer Bruce Weber at a fashion event in Milan in 2011.

Credit
Evan Sung for The New York Times

In fashion, young men are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Male models are “the least respected and most disposable,” said the former model Trish Goff.

“It was general practice to give a model a heads-up about a specific photographer who we knew had a certain reputation,” said Gene Kogan of his time working as an agent at Next Management between 1996 and 2002.

But, he said, “If you said you were not going to work with someone like Bruce Weber or Mario Testino, you might as well just pack it in and go work in another industry.”

As in Hollywood, allegations of harassment and assault have been aired periodically over the decades with little lasting effect. From agents to stylists to fashion brands, the system has traditionally seemed more invested in preserving its image of perfection and glamour than in recognizing its bad actors.

Regular revelations of abuse of female models — as far back as a “60 Minutes” investigation of modeling agencies in Paris in 1988 — faded away. Agents accused of raping young models in their charge continued to work. The photographer Terry Richardson,…

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