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Guess co-founder Paul Marciano has stepped down as executive chair of the company’s board following a four-month investigation into sexual misconduct claims against him. A review of his behavior found that he used “poor judgment” and put “himself in situations in which plausible allegations of improper conduct could, and did, arise.”
In January, model Kate Upton publicly called out Marciano for harassment and criticized Guess for continuing to employ him as creative director.
Upton later told Time magazine that Marciano had forcibly kissed and groped her and tried to drop by her hotel room during a 2010 photo shoot. Other unnamed women accused him of “inappropriate comments and texts and unwanted advances, including kissing and groping.”
Although Marciano, who helped launch the model Anna Nicole Smith to fame, has resigned as executive chair, he will remain a board member through January 30, 2019, when his contract expires. His brother and fellow Guess co-founder Maurice Marciano will now serve as the board’s chair.
The investigation into Paul Marciano involved interviews with more than 40 people and a review of nearly 1.5 million documents. Guess has paid $500,000 to five of Marciano’s accusers to avoid lawsuits.
Lisa Bloom, the attorney who represented four of five Marciano’s accusers, said in a statement that she’s pleased by Marciano’s resignation. But the lawyer, who’s represented other models with harassment claims, added that Guess needs to take decisive action to truly make amends.
“We are disappointed that Mr. Marciano will remain on the board through 2019,” Bloom said. “We do not believe a man with so many credible accusations of sexual assault is fit to lead any company, much less one that sells primarily to women.”
Bloom also said her clients say Marciano forced them to perform sex acts. She said the clients accepted financial settlements due to concerns about the statute of limitations on their claims and because the agreements still allow them to tell their stories in the future.
She called the accusations against Marciano “serious, deeply disturbing, credible claims.”
“Much more remains to be done,” Bloom said, “if Guess truly wants to be a brand that stands for respect for women.”