Comedian Chris D’Elia is facing a new lawsuit that accuses him of violating federal child pornography and child sexual exploitation laws, including soliciting more than 100 sexually explicit photos and videos from a woman identified as “Jane Doe.”
Half of the photos and videos were allegedly taken when Doe was 17 years old, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in federal district court for the Central District of California and reviewed by The Times. Doe had reached out to D’Elia in September 2014 via Instagram, never expecting a reply. The comic was on his “Under No Influence” tour at the time. They later communicated via Snapchat, the suit alleges.
“When I was in my final year of high school and still a child, I was groomed by a celebrity twice my age,” Doe said in a statement released Tuesday by her attorneys, Monica Beck and Chloe Neely of the Fierberg National Law Group. “Chris D’Elia abused his status and fame to lure me in, take advantage, and manipulate me when I was at a vulnerable age. I want any other girls out there to know that they are not alone, and it is time to get justice for the mental and physical toll he has put us through.”
A spokesperson for D’Elia said Tuesday, “Chris denies these allegations and will vigorously defend against them in court.”
D’Elia’s career imploded last June after multiple women accused him via social media of sending graphic messages soliciting sex. In some cases, the women had gone to see him in person and described inappropriate behaviour seeking sex. Five of D’Elia’s many accusers spoke in detail to The Times. Some of those women were underage at the time the comic contacted them.
D’Elia was quickly dropped by talent representatives at three major agencies and a planned Netflix prank show was canned. His role in Zack Snyder’s zombie movie “Army of the Dead” was recast. And like Louis C.K. before him, D’Elia was professionally exiled.
On February 19, after eight months of silence, D’Elia attempted to explain his misbehaviour in a 10-minute video posted on YouTube. In it, he admitted, “Sex, it controlled my life. It was my focus all the time, and I had a problem. And I do have a problem. It’s not like months down the line everything’s better. I need to do work on that.”
He admitted having sexual contact with many women while he was performing on the road and said there were “way more” messages to women than those that had been revealed on social media last summer. He maintained that all of his relationships were legal and consensual.
According to the lawsuit, Doe and D’Elia began exchanging messages in which he persuaded her to send him sexually explicit photos of herself.
D’Elia “constructed a manipulative, controlling, and abusive dynamic in which he demanded Ms. Doe provide him sexually explicit images of herself over the internet, directed her what specific sexual poses and acts she should perform for him, and psychologically punished her when she refused,” the lawsuit alleges. Their interactions occurred over the space of four months, when D’Elia was 34, the suit says.
He also allegedly persuaded her to attend one of his stand-up shows in October 2014 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. Before the show, Doe’s attorneys said in a statement, he “lured her to his hotel room ... separated her from her friends, and took advantage of her youth and inexperience to have sex with her.” The lawsuit states Doe was a virgin before meeting the comic. Doe attended the show and then returned to D’Elia’s room afterward for another encounter, the lawsuit says.
D’Elia repeatedly asked how old she was and whether she was in high school, the lawsuit alleges.
The filing includes graphic descriptions of what Doe alleges occurred between the two of them both in the hotel room and afterward via social media. Their communication continued until May 2015, the lawsuit says. Doe turned 18 on January 31, 2015.
The lawsuit seeks damages to be assessed at trial.
D’Elia, meanwhile, only returned to social media four days ago, with a post of his son saying “Dada.”