IDENTITY CASE CONTINUES: A French man accused of impersonating photographer David Bellemere via social media and soliciting models is expected to return to court in Lyon, France, later this year.
Yann Labrosse, a European model is alleged to have pretended to be Bellemere online, asking models for videos and photography content for castings. Bellemere’s attorney Eric Morain said a court appearance last month at Lyon’s Tribunal de Grande Instance resulted in Labrosse agreeing to a plea bargain, but then the magistrate in charge of the homologation — official confirmation — decided to reject it.
Morain said, “He had the right to do that, but it was very unusual that he refused to homologate this agreement. He sent the case to a public hearing that will be at the end of the year.”
Labrosse did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Bellemere said Wednesday that the problem with Labrosse affected his professional relationships with agencies and models, because most of the models didn’t realize that Labrosse was an imposter and they believed that he was “behaving awkwardly.” Bellemere claimed that Labrosse used social media to keep track of who he was shooting, and in some cases Labrosse contacted those models within hours after Bellemere had worked with them. “That very confusing.” Bellemere said.
During some castings, Bellemere and his agent met some models, “who complained about those messages without knowing and understanding it was the imposter harassing them to get nude content.” Bellemere alleged. “He was watching who I was shooting. He hacked my Facebook account and took it over. Facebook didn’t believe at that point that I was the real David Bellemere. It took weeks to get that settled.”
In a January WWD interview, Bellemere said he personally phoned Labrosse at one point and asked him to stop. When that didn’t happen, the police in Lyon were notified.
Bellemere was among a handful of high-profile photographers named in a Boston Globe article for allegedly mistreating models. The New York-based lensman has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in regards to those incidents as well as any others.
Morain said the judge’s reason is not known and such instances are “very rare,” adding that he has only seen one other similar situation in the past 10 years. Perhaps he thought it wasn’t enough. Perhaps he thought I was too much. It was inexplicable. But both sides had agreed to a plea bargain,” Morain said. “So in a few months there will be a public hearing — a classic trial.”
Twelve plaintiffs are involved — Bellemere and 11 models, whom Bellemere worked with in the past and Labrosse allegedly propositioned trying to pass himself off as Bellemere, Morain said. Bellemere is not obligated to attend that but his attorney said it would be “a good idea” for him to be present. As of yet, there has not been explanation by Labrosse, Morain said. “He hasn’t had to explain anything. We will talk about that in the public hearing.”
Labrosse was said to have initially agreed to a plea bargain that called for a sentence of one-year suspended imprisonment, with two years of probation and the obligation to compensate the victims. Morain and Labrosse did not speak directly at any point, Morain said. The fact that this was Labrosse’s first offense may have been a factor in the judge’s rejection, as well as the heft or levity of the plea bargain (depending on one’s view), according to Morain. “I’m waiting for the public hearing. I cannot tell the future. I’m just waiting and we have to have an explanation from Yann to the tribunal and what it cost David and the other girls [professionally].”
As for his advice to Bellemere, Morain said, “I will tell him directly. I’m sorry,”
If found guilty, Labrosse would have to pay some money to Bellemere, Morain said, declining to pinpoint a potential amount.
“In theory,” Labrosse could receive a jail sentence but Morain said he does not expect that to happen. “It is the first time for him, and for this kind of case you don’t go to jail.