John Travolta denies claims of sexual assault
By Alan Duke
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — John Travolta’s lawyer argued a time-stamped photograph and a restaurant receipt show the actor was in not in Los Angeles when a massage therapist claims he sexually assaulted him at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
“We found out the dates of the claim, we knew the story was false,” Travolta lawyer Martin Singer told CNN Wednesday.
The federal lawsuit, which includes claims by two men that Travolta groped them while on their massage tables, seeks $2 million in damage for each plaintiff.
The lawyer who filed the suit said “droves” of potential plaintiffs have been calling him with similar stories, but he must check their evidence before adding them to the case.
“These are people from different resorts from every state from Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, New York where they were there when he was banned or they were assaulted or they claim to be escorts that were hired by Travolta,” attorney Okorie Okorocha told CNN Wednesday.
Okorocha is a young Pasadena lawyer who said much of his practice is focused on going after sexual predators. He said is not intimidated by the prospect of going against Singer, a veteran lawyer known for aggressive tactics in his representation of “A-list” Hollywood clients.
“They ain’t got nothing on me,” said Okorocha. “I’m the real deal. He stepped into the ring with a gorilla. I am relentless. If you read the reports, if you look at my records, I do not give up on anything.”
But Singer came out swinging hard against Okorocha on Wednesday, first questioning the suit’s detailed description of the first incident in which Travolta allegedly groped a male massage therapist repeatedly and finally masturbated during the two-hour session in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel on January 16.
It claimed Travolta picked up the plaintiff — identified as John Doe No. 1 — in a black Lexus SUV and took him to a hotel bungalow where an African-American chef was cooking hamburgers.
“My client doesn’t have a black chef, doesn’t own an SUV or a Lexus,” Singer said. “He drives a sedan.”
And he was in New York that day to be fitted for his wardrobe for his film “Killing Seasons,” Singer said. He arrived in the city on January 15, a day before the alleged assault in Los Angeles, and remained there at least through the next day, he said.
A photograph of Travolta, which Singer said was taken at the New York fitting bears a digital timestamp of January 16 at 4:30 p.m., although the time zone was not specified.
Singer also provided a receipt for a $382 meal at Mr. Chow, a Manhattan restaurant, apparently printed at 11:38 p.m. that same day of the alleged Los Angeles assault. The merchant copy of the receipt does not include a signature.
“My client was sexually assaulted at 10 a.m.,” Okorocha said Wednesday. “I can get there on horseback to Mr. Chow’s in New York in 12 hours. That’s not that remarkable.” He noted that Travolta is a licensed pilot with a private jet.
Singer’s claim that Travolta was on another side of the country and not with John Doe No. 1 will be easy to disprove, Okorocha said. “In this information age, it’s very hard not to leave a digital footprint and travel around and use cell phones and vehicles and computers, rent bungalows at the Beverly Hills Hotel.”
The second plaintiff, who claims a similar encounter with Travolta occurred at an Atlanta hotel where he was a staff massage therapist on January 25, was added to the lawsuit Tuesday.
Okorocha said the case should be easy to prove because of documentation that was done soon after the incident. “He tells his boss, the employees all talk about it. There’s e-mails going back and forth about the incident.”
“This second ‘anonymous’ claim is just as absurd and ridiculous as the first one,” Singer said Tuesday. It was “obvious” that Okorocha “checked media reports that my client was in Atlanta working on a movie” before filing the second claim about an Atlanta incident, he said.
“However, the claim by Doe No. 2 is just as fabricated as the claim by Doe No. 1,” Singer said. “Our client will be fully vindicated in court on both of these absurd and fictional claims.”
Unless Travolta accepts an out-of-court settlement, the actor can expect to testify in public and on camera about the allegations, Okorocha said.
“He’s going to have a videotaped deposition with me asking him questions and if he goes to trial he is going be on the witness stand answering my questions,” Okorocha said. “That is far more intensive and productive as far as evidence than any police report will ever be.”
The plaintiffs are identified in court filings only as John Doe No. 1 from Texas and John Doe No. 2 of Atlanta, a move their lawyer says is allowed by federal law to protect victims. Travolta’s lawyers know their names, Okorocha said.
Singer said that Okorocha filed his clients anonymously to keep other people from recognizing them and coming forward with evidence against them.
Travolta, 58, has been married to actress Kelly Preston for 20 years. The oldest of their three children, Jett, was 16 when he died of a seizure while the family was vacationing in the Bahamas in January 2009.
The lawsuit alleges that Travolta called the first plaintiff, who advertises online with “professionally themed ads,” to arrange for a massage at $200 an hour. Travolta picked him up at a Beverly Hills address and drove him to the hotel, according to the lawsuit.
When they entered the bungalow, Travolta “shamelessly stripped naked” in front of a professional chef and the plaintiff, the lawsuit states.
“He wants me to get on the table, can you believe that?” Travolta told the chef, according to the document.
“For the first hour the massage was without incident, other than he kept purposefully sliding the towel down that covered his buttocks to reveal about half of gluteus area,” the suit states.
The massage therapist repeatedly slid the towel back up 10 times in the first hour, “reminding Defendant that state law required that a massage client be fully draped during the massage,” the suit states.
When Travolta “started to rub Plaintiff’s leg,” he “thought it was accidental,” it said.
Later, however, there was more touching by Travolta “and this time Plaintiff told Defendant to please not touch him again,” the complaint said.
“Defendant apologized, but then snickered to himself like a mischievous child,” it said.
The lawsuit then described Travolta allegedly touching and grabbing the massage therapist’s penis.
“This was painful and uncomfortable,” the suit said. Travolta apologized and suggested they “must have gotten our signals crossed,” and that he thought that the massage therapist “wanted the same thing he did,” it said. “Defendant then tried to act like it was a simple misunderstanding.”
Travolta then asked him to switch places on the table for a “reverse massage,” the lawsuit states.
Travolta allegedly offered to perform a sexual act on the therapist.
Although the therapist “felt very afraid for his safety,” he agreed to stay and continue with the massage after Travolta told him “OK, I’ll behave myself,” the suit said.
Travolta’s statement “gave plaintiff confidence that his predatory behavior was finally under control,” the suit said.
When he resumed with a deep tissue massage on his shoulders, Travolta told him, “Say something nice to me,” it said.
Travolta, who allegedly began masturbating, then got up and screamed at the plaintiff “how selfish he was; that Defendant got where he is now due to sexual favors he had performed when he was in his ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ days,” the suit said.
Hollywood is controlled by homosexual men “who expect favors in return for sexual activity,” the lawsuit document quotes Travolta as saying.
“Defendant then went on to say how he had done things in his past that would make most people throw up,” it said.
The complaint said Travolta told the therapist that “he was smart enough to learn to enjoy it, and when he began to make millions of dollars, that it all became well worth it.”
When the therapist refused to take part, Travolta said, “No problem. I will find new friends,” the suit said.
He then offered to call a “Hollywood starlet” who wanted “three-way sex,” but “they needed to have sex together first before calling her, so this way they would be in-sync with each other sexually,” the suit said.
The actor told him he could “make millions and be famous” if he lost some weight and adapted to same-sex relations, the suit said.
When the therapist threatened to call police if he was not returned to where he was picked up, Travolta drove him back, although calling him “selfish” and a “loser” on the way, it said.
He paid the therapist $800, double the $400 owed for the two hours, the suit said.
CNN’s Carolyn Sung and Kareen Wynter contributed to this report.