Former model Jason Boyce, who in December sued famed photographer Bruce Weber for sexually assaulting him during a 2014 photo shoot, says that nine months after coming forward, he’s still triggered by the experience.
“There are some days when I get up and I sit in my car and I cry,” Boyce told TheWrap. “I don’t know why, and that’s not something that I did before.”
In 2014, Boyce got a call from his modeling agent informing him he scored a test shoot with Weber. Boyce thought he’d finally arrived. “He’s what would be called in that industry, a ‘star maker,'” Boyce said. “He’s at the top.”
Boyce came to the shoot prepared to “nail it,” arriving at the “best shape of my life.” But by the end of that session, he said, he was “broken.”
“He started his breathing exercises with me and that’s when things took a sinister turn,” Boyce said. “He, over a long period of time, kept making advances and putting his hands on me. I’ve talked about this a thousand times, it never gets easier.”
In December, Boyce filed a lawsuit against Weber’s company, Little Bear, and his former agent, Jason Kanner, accusing the photographer of groping him and kissing him against his will. (Lawyers for Weber “unequivocally” denied the accusations called them “false;” Kanner did not respond.)
“I walked from his studio in lower Manhattan all the way to my place I was staying in Brooklyn and tried to make sense of what happened,” he said. “And I couldn’t. I was not myself after that.”
Boyce’s account is consistent with other male models who came forward in January accusing Weber of sexual misconduct in a New York Times article. The men described private sessions with Weber in which he asked them to undress and led them through breathing exercises. Weber would then guide their hands wherever he felt their “energy.”
Boyce said he came forward in part because of actor Terry Crews, the “Brooklyn Nine Nine” star and former NFL player who accused WME agent Adam Venit of groping him at a Hollywood party in February 2016. (Venit denied the accusations and was never charged with a crime, but resigned from the agency this month as part of a settlement of a lawsuit by Crews.)
Boyce, who is pursuing an acting career while working as a personal trainer, spoke to TheWrap about his “up and down” experience in the last year.
Why did you come forward?
It was eating me alive. It was changing me as a person. I couldn’t sleep, I was angry, I had anxiety, things I never suffered from before… It was affecting my relationship with my wife. I think what really kind of jolted me was when this whole #MeToo movement started, I saw how brave these women were, I saw them out there with no fear and telling people what had happened to them.
But the real one that really helped me was Terry Crews… To see someone that was so strong… come forward, I was like, “I have to say something” because I knew that there were a lot of young men like me that didn’t have a voice.
What was it like telling your story?
I was petrified. I remember agonizing over this decision to approach a law firm for days, sitting on my couch in a complete… panic of what could come of this, what would the public perception of it be.
What was the reaction like?
There was a lot of support but there was also a lot of, “You’re a strong man, why didn’t you just punch him in the face?”… I’ve seen stuff like, “You’re too ugly, there’s no way Bruce would do this to you.”
What’s the status of your lawsuit?
The lawsuit is ongoing. What I hope to get out of it is a change, a systematic change in the fashion industry, not only for Bruce Weber to be held accountable but for the fashion industry itself to be held accountable because I think there are a lot of blind eyes turned.
Bruce Weber denied your accusations. What do you think of his statement?
The truth will come out. How I feel about what he says is irrelevant, doesn’t matter. This will be handled one way or another. I know the truth. I’m happy with that.
What happened to your modeling career since the incident?
It ended essentially. I think I did one more photo shoot after that here in California, and I was done. Which is too bad because before New York, before 2014, I really enjoyed it… My agent in New York dropped me, my agent here in L.A. dropped me… I just wasn’t responsive. I was done. I was dead.
What have the last eight months been like?
Up and down would be the best way to put it. You have days and weeks where you feel clear… and then those thoughts creep back in… There are some days when I get up and I sit in my car and I cry. I don’t know why, and that’s not something that I did before.
I have a son, who’s going to be born in December, so I’m going to be a father. That’s what I’m focusing on right now… I wanted to start a family and I knew that I had to be healthy mentally and spiritually and emotionally.