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Ava v. NYP Holdings

July 2, 2009

AVA ALSO KNOWN AS MAXIMILIA CORDERO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT-APPELLANT,
v.
NYP HOLDINGS, INC. DOING BUSINESS AS NEW YORK POST, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS-RESPONDENTS,
NEWS CORPORATION, ETC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Walter B. Tolub, J.), entered June 26, 2008, which, to the extent appealed from, denied that portion of the motion by defendants NYP Holdings, Inc. d/b/a New York Post, Dareh Gregorian, Lucy Carne, Peter Cox, and Michelle Gotthelf s/h/a Gotthielf to dismiss the first cause of action insofar as it alleges libel regarding a purported sexual fantasy, and denied plaintiff's cross motion to seal certain court records, unanimously modified, on the law, that portion of the Post defendants' motion seeking dismissal of the first cause of action premised on libel regarding a purported sexual fantasy granted, and otherwise affirmed, without costs.

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Gonzalez, P.J., Tom, Friedman, McGuire, Acosta, JJ.

115597/07

In October 2007, plaintiff*fn1 commenced an action to recover damages against, among others, Jeffrey Epstein. In that action, plaintiff alleged that Epstein, a wealthy money manager, had sexually exploited plaintiff when she was a minor by requesting both that she perform sex acts on him and permit him to perform sex acts on her in exchange for his assistance in helping her obtain a modeling career. The complaint contains graphic allegations regarding the specific sex acts plaintiff and Epstein allegedly performed.

Several days before plaintiff commenced the action against Epstein, defendant New York Post ran a story about the allegations in the complaint. The front page of the paper contained a picture of plaintiff with the headline "Teen Model: My kinky sex with billionaire. Bombshell Lawsuit." On page seven, a picture appeared of plaintiff sitting on the lap of her friend and former attorney William Unroch; a picture of Epstein also appeared on that page. The article summarized the graphic allegations in the complaint, and contained statements from Epstein's attorney disparaging the lawsuit and opining that it was time-barred. The article also contained brief statements from Unroch regarding the lawsuit. Information regarding the extent of Epstein's wealth and social connections was imparted in the article, as was the status of a criminal case against him for soliciting underage prostitutes that was pending in Florida at the time the article was published.

On October 23, 2007, the New York Post published another story regarding plaintiff's lawsuit against Epstein. The article was entitled "GENDER-BEND SHOCKER, Kinky-sex suit gal is a man," and featured two pictures of plaintiff, one of Epstein and one of the front page of the prior edition of the New York Post that first reported on the Cordero v Epstein lawsuit. The article reads:

"The stunning model wannabe who says she was pressured into a hush-hush affair with billionare Jeffrey Epstein when she was only 16 has an even bigger secret - she's a man.

"Maximilia Cordero, who stepped forward last week with a lawsuit claiming she'd engaged in bizarre and unnatural sex acts' with Epstein while in her teens, was born Maximillian Cordero in 1983, records show.

"He was dressing up as a girl by age 12, and has been living as a female since his early teens, sources close to Cordero told The Post. Cordero has had cosmetic work done and has taken hormone treatments for almost a decade to look more like a woman, one source said.

"On one of at least three Myspace pages featuring her pictures, she lists her gender as male.'

"She is listed as female on the other two. On one, she gives a graphic depiction of a masturbatory fantasy' she has of being with multiple men and then multiple women, and on the other, the 23-year-old describes herself as a 17 year old model from New York City.'

" I'm a spoiled bit*h and really mean,' the page says.

"I love to have fun, hang out and party! Oh and I'm a junk head (pills, ...


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