Apollo Global Management co-founder Leon Black was sued by a woman who claims the billionaire raped her in 2002.

The lawsuit, which alleges Black assaulted Cheri Pierson of Virginia after she was introduced to him by Jeffrey Epstein, was filed Monday in state court in New York by the same lawyers representing former Russian model Guzel Ganieva. Ganieva, who also claims Black raped her, sued him last year, accusing him of defamation for calling their relationship a “consensual affair” and claiming she had extorted money from him over it.

Pierson’s suit adds another layer of litigation to the acrimonious dispute between Black and Ganieva, which began when she wrote on Twitter in March 2021 that she was “sexually harassed and abused by him for years.”

Black has denied assaulting Ganieva. On Monday, his lawyer Susan Estrich called Pierson’s claims false as well.

“These latest allegations from the Wigdor firm are categorically false,” Estrich said in a statement, citing a “serial abuse of the judicial process” and vowing to “defeat these baseless claims, and to pursue all of our remedies.”

Adult Survivors Act
Pierson’s suit was filed shortly after a new law, New York’s Adult Survivors Act, took effect. The law, which comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement, lifts the statute of limitations for one year on civil claims for alleged sexual offenses. The suit is one of the first tests of the law, along with a battery suit filed against Donald Trump by E. Jean Carroll, the New York author who claims he raped her in the 1990s. Trump has denied the claims.

Black stepped away from leading Apollo the month of Ganieva’s tweet amid controversy over his relationship with Epstein, whom he had paid $158 million for various financial services. He denied Ganieva’s accusations but said he had made payments to her for years to keep their affair secret.

He then sued Ganieva, Apollo co-founder Josh Harris and public relations professional Steven Rubenstein, claiming they had violated civil racketeering laws by scheming to destroy him personally and professionally. That suit was thrown out in June by a federal judge who called the racketeering claims “glaringly deficient.” Black is appealing the dismissal.

Black filed a separate suit against Ganieva and her lawyers in October, saying a confidentiality agreement under which she had been paid more than $9 million barred her from disclosing their relationship. He alleges her lawyers knew about the agreement and encouraged her to break it.

Single Mother
Pierson’s allegations are similar to claims about Black’s alleged treatment of a woman identified only as Jane Doe, first outlined in September 2021 in a proposed amended complaint in Ganieva’s defamation case and repeated in the amended complaint itself, which was filed in May. Black has appealed the judge’s decision allowing Ganieva to file the amended complaint and denying his motion to strike portions of it.

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