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Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Private equity titan Leon Black — who earlier this year left Apollo Global Management, the alternative investing giant he co-founded and led — has been sued in New York State Supreme Court for sexual assault and defamation.

Driving the news: Guzel Ganieva, the woman with whom Black claims he had a "consensual affair," sued Black for allegedly lying about the nature of their relationship and for engaging in "forced sexual misconduct."

Why it matters: Black stepped down after at first ignoring questions about his dealings with Jeffrey Epstein, and then agreeing to an independent investigation that found no business relationship between the Apollo CEO and Epstein. There were no public allegations at the time that Black had personally engaged in sexual abuse.

  • If even half of what's alleged in this lawsuit is true, then Epstein is the least of Black's legal and reputational concerns.
  • Ganieva, a Russian immigrant and mother of one, claims that Black made her finally indebted to him, in part via a pair of $480,000 loans (with interest), and that he used that financial power for personal gratification. One alleged sexual episode is particularly gruesome.
  • She also claims to have signed an NDA with Black — of which she doesn't have a copy — in exchange for more payments, but chose to go public after Black stated that he "did not engage in any wrongdoing or inappropriate conduct" and his reference to their relationship as "consensual."

What Ganieva's lawyer is saying: "This case is the epitome of why #MeToo exists. In textbook fashion, men with wealth, power and an army of elite lawyers continue to escape accountability for their heinous acts by twisting the legal system to penalize their victims for speaking up."

What Black's spokesperson is saying:

"Ms. Ganieva's allegations of harassment and other inappropriate behavior are categorically untrue. This frivolous lawsuit is riddled with lies, and is nothing more than a wholesale fiction. The truth is that Leon Black had a wholly consensual relationship with Ms. Ganieva for six years, and then, as we have previously advised the criminal authorities, Mr. Black was subsequently extorted by Ms. Ganieva for many years and made substantial monetary payments to her based on her threats to go public about their relationship and cause him reputational risk and harm to his family. Mr. Black emphatically denies each and every spurious allegation put forth in this lawsuit and looks forward to disproving them in court."

The bottom line: For years, this narrative has been largely controlled by Black and Apollo. That's no longer the case.

Go deeper

Florida's "anti-riot" bill blocked by federal judge

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at a press conference. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Florida's anti-riot bill was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge Thursday.

Driving the news: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis championed the bill, which increased penalties for crimes committed during a "riot." The Republican governor has campaigned for stricter penalties against protestors following a rise in demonstrations sparked by George Floyd's death last summer.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.