June 2, 2021 | 8:56pm | Updated June 2, 2021 | 8:56pm
Leon Black, founder and former head of Apollo Global Management, may find some silver linings in an explosive defamation lawsuit he faces. REUTERS
Sifting through this week’s explosive lawsuit against Leon Black by an ex-Russian model, there may be a bright spot for Black: The case isn’t likely to dig up any dirt about the billionaire’s alleged ties with Jeffrey Epstein.
That’s because the defamation suit filed Tuesday by Guzel Ganieva — a single mother who denies Black’s claim that the pair had a “consensual affair,” instead accusing him of “sadistic sexual acts” — doesn’t mention Epstein, and therefore doesn’t provide grounds for digging into matters pertaining to the dead pedophile, legal experts say.
Another potential positive for Black: While the lawsuit includes a gruesome allegation of a 2014 rape, it isn’t likely to spur an investigation by the New York District Attorney, according to experts.
“Winning a rape case is so difficult,” says New York trial lawyer Mark Moody. “It happened seven years ago. Presumably, there is no evidence. It also looks like a ‘he said, she said’ story. It would be difficult to prove it criminally.”
It could be, however, that the positives end there. That’s because the series of graphic accusations in the suit, filed in New York state court, threaten to dwarf concerns around Black’s ties to Epstein, which until now have only been established as financial.
The legal battle with Ganieva, which may very well result in a trial, could drag on for years.
“Ms. Ganieva’s allegations of harassment and other inappropriate behavior are categorically untrue,” Black said in a statement on Tuesday (His reps declined to comment further on Wednesday). “This frivolous lawsuit is riddled with lies, and is nothing more than a wholesale fiction.”
Black will likely aim to narrow the case to the defamation claims and seek confidentiality as often as possible — a request that won’t necessarily be granted by a judge, according to experts. In about a year, look for Black to file a motion to dismiss the suit before offering Ganieva any money, says Patrick Boyd of the Boyd Law Group.
Ganieva’s lawyers didn’t speak with Black’s legal team before filing the suit, according to a source briefed on the situation. That’s “slightly unusual,” according to Boyd, who says Ganieva may have feared Black would preempt her suit with a media offensive of his own, making it difficult to air her allegations.
Ganieva’s law firm Wigdor declined to comment. Nevertheless, Moody says Ganieva’s case looks strong and will survive a motion to dismiss. A jury trial is three to six years away, sources said.
“It’s difficult to see how a narrative can be created by Black to counter the claims and get a summary judgment,” Moody said.
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