Male Models Share Their Sexual Assault Stories Against Swiss Model Agency Owner
The owner of One Time Management, a Zurich-based model agency is being exposed by several (underaged) male models for sexual assault. Four young men have come forward and shared their personal experiences with us.
Sexual harassment remains within the modelling industry.
In fashion, everyone is aware of the blurred boundaries between creativity and sexuality within the industry. To create diverse content, images and campaigns all kinds of strange requirements are demanded such as nudity. Nevertheless, nudity remains a sensitive issue. Sadly, there is still a belligerent response to accusations, leaving everyone in a state of doubt or even denial.
Male models are just as vulnerable as females.
© Screenshots via @johnwalkerbye on Instagram
On Sunday, 7th of June, an Instagram account was created to call out the owner of One Time Management, a leading male model agency based in Zurich, for sexual harassment. Since then, dozens of young males, most of them underaged, came forward and shared their stories online about their experiences. From chat screenshots to disturbing videos, countless proof came to light on how J. Walker used his position in power to manipulate and harass young men. Some even reported that they had been drugged and taken advantage of by the One Time Management owner, who promised them a glorious model career in return. The Instagram account has been deleted twice since but keeps showing up and spreading awareness under different names.
Four men opened up to INJECTION and shared their sexual assault experiences with J. Walker.
Loris, 23, Switzerland
Three years ago.
J. Merlino, also known as J. Walker, gave me a lot of hope to have a successful career as a model as long as I did what he said. So I went to his studio and made my first Polas with him. That’s when it started to get uncomfortable. He plucked my underpants and was looking for physical contact. I figured that's just him or his character and didn't make a fuss. Weeks later he invited me to go out with him to make connections in the world of fashion. We went together to a bar and spent the evening there with people he knew. We drank a lot and when I got drunk he told me that we have to take some pictures to send to Walter Pfeiffer because he was very interested in me. So he took me to a park and told me he’d like to take nude pictures now. When I asked him if I could take some in my underwear he said Walter needs sexy pics of me and I should strike horny poses. While taking my nudes he came very close and touched me all over my body, even though I told him off multiple times. I endured it, hoping that Walter will be pleased by the pictures of me. J. kept touching me and even grabbed my genitals. I was shocked and paralyzed and just wanted to finish the shoot.
In retrospect, I guess he was never really interested in taking those pictures. Instead, he wanted to pleasure himself sexually with the shoot by taking shameless advantage of me using his position of power. During the whole time we were in contact, he was messaging me a lot and tried to occupy me to keep my mind off that event, which worked out in some way. I never heard anything about the photos and what happened to them and decided after everything to distance myself from him.
To this day, I have never told anyone about it because I told myself it was my own fault and I played it down. I thought I should be able to protect myself because in our society it's still a thing that men should be able to do that in every situation. Now, obviously I'm a different kind of man and I'm okay with what happened.
There's nothing to be played down, this guy has to be held accountable for his actions. Take care of yourself and others!
Anonymous, 17, Switzerland
Four weeks ago.
J. was already in possession of underwear pictures of me that he asked me for from his official account when he invited me to his birthday party. There he tried to set me up with his scout and expected me to hook up with him. Of course, I didn’t and even the scout told me he finds J.’s inappropriate behaviour unacceptable. I met the scout one week later and he mentioned that he had been sexually molested by J. before.
The scout is no longer working with One Time Management.
Joshua, 21, Switzerland
Five years ago.
Back in 2015 J. Merlino, also known as J. Walker, texted me on Instagram. I was only 16 years old when he told me I would do great as a model in his agency, One Time Management. He invited me to his studio. The second time, he asked me to come alone. As I arrived, he told me to undress so he could make a couple of Polas, which were meant to be sent to different designers and brands. Instead of taking these photos of me in my underwear, he started touching me between my legs and kissed me on my back and cheeks. I even had to touch myself and show to him that “I love my body”. He was acting as if what we were doing was completely normal. He said, ”The best models in his agency are the ones that can express their sexiness. It’s completely normal to be touched. If you’re not okay with that, you will never be able to make it in this industry.” In the meantime, he started taking photos, which were never sent to any designers or brands. Whereas he tried to give me another kiss, I stood up and told him that I don’t feel well at all. J. got angry and ordered me to leave because I was a waste of time and not made for the model-industry.
I felt so bad, not only because I just had the first sexual harassment experience in my life but also because he got me to the point where I started to think that I was the problem.
Anonymous, 19, Switzerland
Three years ago.
In the summer of 2017, at the age of 16, I was about to sign a contract with one of Switzerland's most recognised male modelling agencies, One Time Management. All of a sudden I found myself in a toxic cycle of sexual harassment and psychological abuse with the companies booker and owner J. Walker. It sickens me to see that I wasn't the only one experiencing this. People like him have to be taken the fuck down in this industry.
We do not have any valid confirmation on J. Walker's response toward these allegations. One Time Management has taken down their Instagram account and remains silent.
We encourage everyone who experienced any sort of sexual abuse or harassment to speak up and seek legal advise to hold predators accountable for their actions!