MISTAKEN IDENTITY: A man accused of using fashion photographer David Bellemere’s social media identity to solicit models is due for a March 28 court appearance, according to Bellemere’s attorney Eric Morain.
Bellemere’s attorney, who has worked on similar cases with journalist Nadia Daam and porn actress Nikita Bellucci, said a plea bargain is the objective of the upcoming preliminary hearing. If the accused does not “recognize the crime” that he allegedly committed, then a second hearing will be scheduled that will be open to the public, the lawyer said. Twelve plaintiffs are involved — Bellemere and 11 models, whom Bellemere worked with in the past and Yann Labrosse allegedly propositioned trying to pass himself off as Bellemere, Morain said.
Bellemere claims that he learned Labrosse, a European model, was impersonating him online about 18 months ago and phoned him to ask him to stop. When that did not happen, Bellemere said he contacted the police in Lyons, France.
Labrosse did not respond to interview requests.
“He approached these girls pretending to be me. He was asking some models for videos and photography content, because he was pretending to do some casting. He said he needed some nude content very fast from them because he had a job that needed to be decided on very fast,” Bellemere alleged. “That is not typical. The thing is he was contacting a lot of girls who want to be models and who don’t have a lot of experience. I think he was following my life on Instagram. One time I posted a photograph of a friend on Instagram and he contacted her pretending to be me.”
Bellemere said he had never worked with Labrosse. He said he learned of Labrosse’s identity after a model friend allegedly told him that Labrosse’s ex-girlfriend had told her. Bellemere said, “I found his phone number and had a talk with him to ask him to stop.”
Bellemere claimed that he told Labrosse that if he didn’t stop impersonating him, he would post about the alleged ruse on Instagram or Facebook. Despite allegedly telling Bellemere that he would stop, Labrosse did not, Bellemere said. “Some models were in contact with me about someone approaching them pretending to be me, so I went to the police in France,” Bellemere said, adding that his work and his reputation as a photographer may have made him a target. “I was working for Victoria’s Secret. And I was doing some fashion and some nude pictures.”
Approaching models via Facebook or Instagram, Morain said the impostor pretended to be Bellemere and in some cases used some of Bellemere’s photos. Morain said, “The women were trustworthy of these profiles because it was David’s name, a photo of him and his profile. It was like the truth for them.”
Labrosse is not at risk of going to jail, but could potentially pay a fine, according to Morain. Asked about his other cases on behalf of Daam and Bellucci, the attorney said, “I am kind of a specialist in France with these kinds of cases. Every case is different. It’s too early to say something has changed but it is step-by-step. There are some new rules in France last August.”
Last year, French officials passed a law that allows for fines for sexual harassment on the street or on public transportation. In addition, intercourse between an adult and a minor would be considered rape, if proven the adult abused the child’s understanding of the act.
Along with fellow photographers Patrick Demarchelier, Greg Kadel, Seth Sabal and Andre Passos, as well as stylist Karl Templer, Bellemere was among the photographers accused of sexual misconduct in the February 2018 bombshell investigative piece by The Boston Globe. All of the men denied any wrongdoings.
As reported, the Globe told Templer’s lawyer in a brief letter dated Oct. 2 that the story did not implicate him specifically in instances of sexual coercion.
While the Globe’s lawyer was adamant that the paper “stands behind all of its reporting in that article,” he addressed Templer’s view that the article implicated him in “coercing or trying to coerce models to engage in sex or sexual activities” with him.
“The article did not assert or imply any such thing, nor did it report that Mr. Templer attempted to have or had sex with any models,” the letter reads. “Any claim that the Globe accused Mr. Templer of such conduct is entirely unfounded.”
The letter referred to Templer alone and not to anyone else named in the Globe’s story.
As for how Bellemere’s 2018 billings compared to those of 2017, he said he hadn’t compared the two. “I really find it so depressing,” Bellemere said. “Now I’m still very scared about what’s going on.”