A former production assistant for a wealthy hologram producer struggled to maintain her composure Thursday as she testified that her boss regularly subjected her to simulated sex acts in the workplace.
Mahim Khan, 35, is the fourth woman since April to have her sexual harassment case against 51-year-old Alki David tried before a Los Angeles Superior Court jury. Before she took the stand, David, who is acting as his own attorney, told jurors during his opening statement, “This lady is a criminal and so is this law firm.”
David was referring to Khan’s attorneys, Nathan Goldberg and Dolores Leal, who work for civil rights attorney Gloria Allred.
David denied he was a harasser of the opposite sex.
“I deeply respect women,” he said.
Khan told jurors she was hired in October 2014 by associates of David and eventually worked for three of the businessman’s companies, FilmOn TV, Alki David Productions and Hologram USA Inc. She said she enjoyed her first two to three months on the job, which involved scheduling, catering and other general work that helped in the companies’ production activities.
But Khan said the atmosphere changed when David began sneaking up behind her, swiveling her chair around and then initiating conduct that suggested he was engaging her in oral sex, complete with moaning sounds of pleasure.
Khan had to be implored by Goldberg to describe David’s behavior. The plaintiff initially said, “I really don’t want to” and “this is really embarrassing.”
She said the incidents happened about two to three times a week and that she immediately returned to her work in order to block it out of her mind.
“I had to, (otherwise) I wouldn’t survive,” she said.
Khan left David’s companies after about a year.
She said she grew up in a conservative Muslim household in Austin, Texas, in which she happily observed her religious traditions. She said she didn’t date and wore clothing that kept most of her skin covered.
But she said she also was subjected to mental and physical abuse at the hands of her father and that she left the family home after graduating from college to live with an aunt in San Diego.
The Khan trial comes about a month after 36-year-old Lauren Reeves won more than $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages against David in another sexual harassment case.
Attorney Ellyn Garofalo has represented David and his companies in two of the previous trials and his firms only in the third trial. She is serving in the latter role in the Khan trial. She told jurors in her opening statement Thursday that David’s work environment was a “crazy, outrageous place” and that Khan knew that when she took the job. She said David creates content that is meant to shock viewers.
In April, 42-year-old Chasity Jones was awarded $11 million in compensatory and punitive damages against David. She later agreed to a reduction of about $445,000 after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rafael Ongkeko found the amount of out-of-pocket damages awarded her was excessive.
David has appealed the Jones verdict, and Garofalo said she expects it will be overturned.
On Sept. 3, Judge Christopher Lui declared a mistrial in the case of Jones’ co-plaintiff, 32-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, after jurors deadlocked 8-4 in favor of David.
David was behind the hologram technology that brought slain rapper Tupac Shakur to Coachella in 2012 and saw the late Michael Jackson moonwalk at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.
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