Three 17-year-old models have filed a lawsuit against agent and owner of Emmanuel New York Models, Aristeo Tengco. The suit alleges that Tengco withheld the models’ earnings (despite booking them on “several paying jobs” and groped them during late-night prayer sessions.
Hayden Holt was the first to filed suit, though she has been joined by fellow aspiring models and roommates Jessica Lee and Kayla Hill. The trio claim that Tengco convinced them to move to New York by promising to introduce them to his fashion colleagues and by wooing their parents with reassurances about his Christian faith.
The three models lived with Tengco in his Upper East Side apartment — and then things turned weird. Says Holt:
“He would have meetings about this self-journey I’m going through with Jesus and it would be at like 9 or 10 o clock at night and there would be, yes, touching involved and stuff. It was just creepy.”
“It was very inappropriate, and afterwards Kayla and I would usually go to our room and cry.”
Tengco and his lawyer deny the models’ claims, calling them “frivolous”. On his website, Tengco writes:
“My Agency’s business plan is simple. I will introduce and offer professional services of my choice fashion models and creative artists to my personal and professional acquaintances in the fashion industry. Together we will figure out how best to serve you! The garment hang tags of my very first “ARISTEO San Francisco” designs read: “If it makes you smile, I’ve done my job.”
In that case, we’d have to say he’s failed.