Prolific New York City Chef Julian Medina has been accused of filming a sex tape of an employee without her permission, then using the video to blackmail her into staying silent about his previous abusive behavior.
Olga Ramos, 37, alleges that she was subjected to "degrading and humiliating" treatment while dating Medina and working as a bartender at his restaurant Toloache in Midtown. After three years of dating, according to the suit, Medina forced her to sign a document that released him from "any and all future claims." Ramos remained an employee of Toloache after the pair broke up in November, at which point she says that the abuse considerably worsened.
On more than one occasion in the past year, the complaint alleges, Medina kicked Ramos between the legs while she was working in the restaurant's kitchen. Ramos also claims that Medina would bark commands at her in front of other employees, telling her to "[g]et back into your cage" and that "all [she] was good for was cleaning the bar."
Then in May of this year, Medina allegedly sent Ramos a text message with video showing her performing oral sex on him, which Ramos was unaware existed, and which she took as a threat that her boss would go public with the tape if she spoke out about the harassment. Weeks later, Medina showed up at Ramos's apartment "extremely intoxicated and demanding that [she] have anal sex with him," according to the lawsuit, which seeks $500,000 in damages.
When Ramos threatened to speak out about the treatment, she claims Medina promised "he would use his influence in the New York restaurant industry to make sure that she never worked again."
In addition to Toloache, Medina operates several other popular New York City restaurants, including Yerba Buena and Tacuba. Last week, he unveiled plans to open two new restaurants this fall, Eater reports.
A representative for Medina did not respond to a request for comment, but his lawyers told the NY Post that "Julian is innocent," and accused Ramos of "manufactur[ing] this scandalous tale for the sole purpose of embarrassing our client."
UPDATE: Julian Medina's attorney, Lawrence Morrison, told Gothamist in an email: "Julian is innocent of these charges. Ms. Ramos has manufactured this scandalous tale for the sole purpose of embarrassing our client. Julian is a very talented chef and a highly principled individual who has never conducted himself in the manner described by plaintiff."