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Guess co-founder Paul Marciano has resigned as executive chairman of the company’s board, following an investigation into multiple accusations of inappropriate behavior against him.
The company said in an SEC report filed Tuesday that Marciano notified the Board of his decision to resign, though he will remain on the Board, Guess said.
Guess also said that it has settled with five of Marciano’s accusers, for a total amount of $500,000.
According to Guess, Marciano will fulfill the remainder of his employment contract, which expires on January 30, 2019. Marciano “will fulfill his duties and responsibilities through the expiration of his employment agreement to effect a smooth transfer of responsibilities of his role as Chief Creative Officer.” While he will receive his salary from the period from June 11, 2018 until January 30, 2019, his salary from February 20, 2018 until June 11 was forfeited.
“Allegations against Mr. Marciano included claims of inappropriate comments and texts, and unwanted advances including kissing and groping. Investigators interviewed more than 40 people and reviewed approximately 1.5 million pages of documents, including emails, human resources and legal department files, social media messages, video and audio recordings, photographs, travel itineraries, calendar entries, agreements, invoices and financial records. Many of the allegations could not be corroborated. In some cases, no conclusion could be reached because the individuals either declined to be interviewed or provided insufficient information to the investigators,” Guess said. “And, in other cases, the investigation found that credible accounts were given by both sides. The investigation found that on certain occasions Mr. Marciano exercised poor judgment in his communications with models and photographers and in placing himself in situations in which plausible allegations of improper conduct could, and did, arise.”
Among Marciano’s accusers was model Kate Upton, who told Time that Marciano once “forcibly grabbed my breasts” during a long campaign of harassment.
Upton told Time that after the first day of shooting her Guess Lingerie campaign in July 2010, Marciano “said he wanted to meet with me. As soon as I walked in with photographer Yu Tsai, Paul came straight up to me, forcibly grabbed my breasts and started feeling them — playing with them actually. After I pushed him away, he said,’I’m making sure they’re real.'”
In a statement issued Tuesday, attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents four of Marciano’s accusers, said that she is “pleased” that Marciano has resigned as executive chairman.
“And yet, much more remains to be done if Guess truly wants to be a brand that stands for respect for women,” Bloom added.
“We are disappointed that Mr. Marciano will remain on the board through 2019. 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 continued.