A comedy writer testified Monday that she endured months of sexual innuendo and inappropriate conduct by her billionaire boss in 2016, hoping things would change and she could fulfill her dream of using images of comedians as part of the cutting edge technology made possible with holograms.
Lauren Reeves, 35, said she “thought I would be turning comedians into the newest form of entertainment,” with the help of hologram producer Alki David.
Reeves, who lived for a about a decade in New York before relocating to Los Angeles after a failed romance, said she thought she had become toughened to deal with difficult personalities.
“I thought I could handle him,” Reeves said.
But, according to Reeves, the antagonistic behavior never ended.
“He doesn’t hear the word “stop,”’ she said.
Reeves is the third plaintiff to take her sexual harassment case against David to trial since April, when 42-year-old Chasity Jones was awarded $11 million in compensatory and punitive damages. 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.
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 the plaintiff.
Reeves told jurors she had two stints working as an independent contractor for David, one in 2015 at FilmOn TV and another in 2016 at Hologram USA. She said she came back the second time to pitch an idea to him because she was interested in working with holograms.
David twice put his hands around Reeves’ throat in the workplace in April 2016, the second time occurring in front of a comedian with whom she was having a conversation, the witness said. She said David demanded during the alleged assault that she look into his eyes, and said he was bullied as a child.
On another occasion as the two walked to a nearby grocery store, David told Reeves he was stopping to get supplies for his “rape room,” she alleged. In still another incident, David placed one of his fingers in his mouth, made moaning sounds and uttered a comment that referred to the private parts of her celebrity boyfriend at the time, Reeves testified.
In his opening statement, Reeves’ lawyer, Nathan Goldberg, said that after enduring many indignities, the final straw for Reeves came in September 2016, when David returned from an absence and summoned her to his office for an update on a new show.
David allegedly closed the window blinds and the door, dropped his pants and then forced her head toward his private parts. He then opened the door and called a sales executive into the office, hoping to convince the other man that she was giving David oral sex, according to the plaintiff, who left and never went back, Goldberg said.
Reeves said she was raised in Alaska and taught tourists how to pan for gold as a child while working for her family business. She said she later had television anchoring jobs in Fairbanks and Anchorage before leaving for New York, where she worked doing writing and performing on sketches on “Saturday Night Live” and with such personalities as David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien. She said she also did modeling work.
The 51-year-old David was not in court Monday, but his lawyer, Ellyn Garafalo, said he is scheduled to be present on Tuesday. He acted as his own lawyer during the Taylor trial, but has agreed to let his lawyers represent him during the Reeves trial.
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