A federal jury has awarded $18 million to former Swedish model Hannah Bouveng in a sexual harassment and defamation suit filed against her boss, Benjamin Wey. As the CEO of New York Global Group, a private equity investment firm with an estimated $1 billion in capital, Wey allegedly pressured Bouveng into having sex, fired her after she tried to end the relationship, and then posted defamatory articles about her on his blog TheBlot after being informed of the lawsuit.
The story began in the summer of 2013, when Mr. Wey hired Bouveng as an assistant in New York City after meeting her at a party in the Hamptons. According to his wife, Michaela, Wey rented his new assistant a luxury apartment in the Financial District, explaining that “Ms. Bouveng could be closer to the office, focus on work and bring him more deals”, which would be good for business.
According the $850 million lawsuit filed in Manhattan Federal Court, Mr. Wey began pushing his new assistant to have sex with him, buying her gifts and bringing her on business trips where he would book only a single room. After several awkward encounters where he successfully pressured her into having sex with him, Bouveng attempted to break off the relationship at Wey’s Behest.
In a statement to the jury, Bouveng’s attorney David Ratner stated, “She was debased. She was degraded. She was defiled. He was delighted… He thought he owned her.”
When Bouveng began refusing her boss’s advances, he threatened to fire her. In her testimony, Bouveng stated, ““He said if I didn’t spend more time with him, he would have to start looking for someone else. He said if I didn’t show him tangible love, he was kicking me out by Aug. 1.”Later on, after discovering her with another man, Bouveng claims that Wey fired her, kicked her out of the apartment and threatened to revoke her visa.
Bouveng proceeded to file suit against Wey in July of 2014, but was only met with more harassment. That month, Wey retaliated by posting several defamatory articles on his blog about Bouveng that included her name, picture, description and accusations of her of being a drug addict, sex slave and prostitute. The suit also states that Wey traveled to Stockholm to harass Bouveng and hire private detectives to stalk her months after she was fired from NYG Group.
In June, an eight-person jury awarded Bouveng $2 million in compensatory damages and $16 million in punitive damages for sexual harassment, retaliation and defamation claims.