Guess Co-Founder Resigns After Kate Upton and Others Accuse Him of Sexual Misconduct
Guess's co-founder is leaving the company after 37 years at its helm.
Following accusations of sexual misconduct, Paul Marciano has officially resigned from the denim brand. He was accused of harassment by multiple people, including model Kate Upton, who said in January that he groped and harassed her when she was 18 years old.
“After the first day of shooting the Guess Lingerie campaign [on July 25, 2010], Paul Marciano said he wanted to meet with me. As soon as I walked in with photographer Yu Tsai, Paul came straight up to me, forcibly grabbed my breasts and started feeling them—playing with them actually,” Upton said in an interview in February. “After I pushed him away, he said, ‘I’m making sure they’re real.'”
Upton alleges that during the meeting, Marciano continued to touch her inappropriately, even grabbing the back of her head to forcibly kiss her face and neck. After declining his repeated advances after this meeting, she alleges that she was fired.
This was not the first time that a model voiced complaint about Marciano. The New York Times reports that in 2009, former Guess fit model Lindsey Ring filed suit against Marciano, alleging that he "began to create a hostile work environment for Ms. Ring by making sexual comments to her, repeatedly touching her inappropriately and without her consent, and attempting on at least two occasions to fondle her sexually after taking her to a private area at the worksite." Ring's attorneys filed a dismissal of the case later that year, which could indicate a settlement.
Additional allegations against Marciano included "inappropriate comments and texts and unwanted advances including kissing and groping," according to a new filing. The company chose conduct an internal investigation of these allegations by interviewing more than 40 people and reviewing 1.5 million pages of documents, including emails, HR and legal files, social media copy, video, audio recordings, photos, calendars, and invoices.
Marciano has denied the allegations, but he still chose to leave the company, as revealed in a Guess company 8-K form with the SEC, a required announcement to major shareholders.
"Many of the allegations could not be corroborated," the Guess filing states. "In some cases, no conclusion could be reached because the individuals either declined to be interviewed or provided insufficient information to the investigators. And, in other cases, the investigation found that credible accounts were given by both sides. The investigation found that on certain occasions Mr. Marciano exercised poor judgment in his communications with models and photographers and in placing himself in situations in which plausible allegations of improper conduct could, and did, arise."
It goes on to clarify that Marciano is voluntarily resigning. He will continue to receive his salary until his contract expires on January 30, 2019.
Additionally, the company reached settlements with five specific people, totaling $500,000. It's unclear whether one of them is Upton though, since the five people's names haven't been released.