Plaintiff’s attorney apologizes about error in sex lawsuit against John Travolta
By Alan Duke and Michael Martinez
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — The attorney representing two men suing John Travolta for alleged groping apologized Friday to Travolta’s attorney for how one of the plaintiffs was wrong about the date of one alleged attack.
That plaintiff, identified as John Doe No. 1, will remain in the federal lawsuit but will be represented by a different lawyer, attorney Okorie Okorocha told CNN.
Travolta’s attorney, Martin Singer, has said the actor denies the lawsuit’s allegations that he groped two massage therapists while on their massage tables. The suit seeks $2 million in damages for each plaintiff.
“I want to apologize to Martin Singer. It must be very upsetting,” Okorocha told CNN about how John Doe No. 1 provided the wrong date of January 16 for an alleged groping incident in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
“I believed I was on solid ground or I wouldn’t have given the dates on any court papers or to Mr. Singer,” said Okorocha, an attorney based in Pasadena, California.
John Doe No. 1 “needs a fresh lawyer to handle the case and we’re working on that,” Okorocha said. “He needs someone to handle the case who hasn’t made any mistakes.”
The current petition will be amended once the new lawyer is hired for John Doe No. 1, and that lawyer would rewrite the section relating to that client, Okorocha said.
John Doe No. 2 will still be represented by Okorocha and remain on the same lawsuit, the attorney said.
This week, Travolta’s lawyer argued a time-stamped photograph and a restaurant receipt show the actor was not in Los Angeles when John Doe No. 1 claimed the actor assaulted him.
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.
Okorocha said much of his practice is focused on going after sexual predators. He said he 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.
But Singer came out swinging against Okorocha this week, first questioning the suit’s detailed description of the first incident in which Travolta allegedly groped John Doe No. 1 repeatedly and finally masturbated during the two-hour massage session in the Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow.
The suit claimed Travolta picked up the plaintiff in a black Lexus SUV and took him to a hotel bungalow where an African-American chef was cooking hamburgers.
But Singer said that Travolta “doesn’t have a black chef, doesn’t own an SUV or a Lexus. He drives a sedan.”
And Travolta 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 Beverly Hills, 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. the same day of the alleged Beverly Hills assault. The merchant copy of the receipt does not include a signature.
Earlier this week, Okorocha had stood by John Doe No. 1′s account of the alleged January 16 assault.
“My client was sexually assaulted at 10 a.m.,” Okorocha said this week. “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.
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.”
Responded Singer this week: “This second ‘anonymous’ claim is just as absurd and ridiculous as the first one.”
Singer said 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 this week.
“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 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.
“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.