A BRITISH billionaire has been ordered to pay a record £44million in damages in a landmark sexual harassment case.
Alki David, 51, was found to have sexually harassed Mahim Khan, 36, a production assistant at one of his media firms.
It is the third sexual harassment case he has lost this year. He denies them and says he was not given a fair hearing.
The jury in Los Angeles last week ordered him to pay up after finding him liable for battery, sexual battery and sexual harassment against Ms Khan. She had told the court that, in 2014, David – who owns lucrative streaming TV services – thrust his pelvis into her face, simulating a sex act.
The court heard he also groped her and gave her a lap dance in front of a client. Ms Khan told how he once walked into a meeting she was having with clients and put on a pornographic video.
She was represented by Gloria Allred, who is also defending some of the late Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims and who recently called on Prince Andrew to testify to the FBI.
In a statement, Ms Khan said: “I hope the punitive damages verdict sends a message to Alki David to never, ever think of violating another woman’s body.”
Nancy Erika Smith, a partner at US lawyers Smith Mullin, who has handled numerous harassment cases, said the Khan award was one of the largest for an employment case. “Nobody deserves it more,” she said. “He made a mockery of the justice system, the law, the jury, the judge – and he admitted that he had no respect for his female accusers.” However father-of-two David insisted: “I’m not a monster, I am respectful to women.”
David, whose family made its money in the Coca-Cola bottling industry, is on the Sunday Times Rich List with a £2.5billion fortune. His ventures include TV companies, a hologram theatre and the SwissX medicinal cannabis firm. David has been dogged by controversy. Earlier this year he was arrested after flying into the Caribbean island of St Kitts with £1.5million worth of non-psychoactive marijuana, intending to set up a legal cannabis business.
Actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers was on the plane with him. The twice-married tycoon claimed he had been targeted for the sex harassment claims because of his wealth and insisted his wild image is just a facade. “I have childishly engineered this evil billionaire character online but it’s a gaming character,” he said. “I’m a performer working in a performing environment.”
David said he is planning an appeal in the latest case.
He admitted he flirted at work and would even expose himself in the office. But he claimed he has never sexually harassed a woman.
He said he did not believe his behaviour could have been construed as shocking to staff at his entertainment firm, which he said “makes sexy, adult content”.
He added: “The legal system is broken. Because I am rich, people think they have a right to take as much money as they can. Of course, there was flirting. But my current Muslim girlfriend, Leila, knows the real story. She stands by me.
“I’m not a monster. I am a human being.” He also suggested the damages may never be paid, saying: “I am a British citizen living in California and own nothing here. ” In April, a jury awarded £8million to Chasity Jones, 42, who accused him of firing her after she refused to have sex. She agreed to a reduction to £6million.
The same month a jury also found in favour of Lauren Reeves, 36, a writer at his business, Hologram USA. In 2016 Ms Reeves alleged David frequently propositioned her, put his hands on her throat and pushed her chair into a wall. After the case, she said David “should be in therapy”.