Liza's Ex-Bodyguard Claims Sexual Assault
11/11/2004 at 08:00 AM EST
In a $100-million lawsuit, Liza Minnelli's former bodyguard and chauffeur is accusing the singer of routinely beating him and forcing him to have sex with her, according to court papers unsealed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The ex-employee, M'hammed Soumayah, 56, a married father of two, said that "without his consent," he was forced to have sexual relations with Minnelli or else risk losing his $238,000-a-year job. He began working for Minnelli, 58, in 1994.
Soumayah's documents state that he finally succumbed to the Cabaret star's advances after many repeated attempts and has evidence of a relationship. But he offered no details in his complaint, reports Reuters.
A spokeswoman for Minnelli was not immediately available for comment, but in a Nov. 3 affidavit that was also unsealed by a judge on Wednesday, Minnelli said she would "vigorously" defend herself against his charges. She does not address the issue of Soumayah's sexual claims, but does state that he has caused her "a great deal of personal distress and pain" by violating a confidentiality agreement he had signed.
Soumayah is seeking $50 million from Minnelli for her "intentional assault and battery," another $50 million for sexual harassment and $89,000 in back wages, the complaint specifies. It also says Minnelli fired him in June after he refused to take a 50 percent cut in salary.
Earlier this week, Minnelli countersued and accused him of breach of contract. The star is also being sued for $10 million by her ex husband, David Gest, who claims she assaulted him during drunken rages.
Minnelli has denied beating Gest and countersued, claiming he cheated her out of more than $2 million.
In his complaint, Soumayah said that throughout his employment, Minnelli "hit and assaulted" him "repeatedly" but fearing loss of his lucrative job, he tolerated Minnelli's "violent outbursts."