A Brooklyn woman is suing a Manhattan corporate securities lawyer for allegedly forcing her to strip and have sex during an interview for a receptionist job. According to a lawsuit filed by Denisse Villalta in Manhattan Federal Court, Sunny Barkats coerced her to have sex in exchange for the job, saying "she belonged to him and that she would be required to have a threesome with him and his wife."
The alleged incident took place in October 2014 and Villalta, who was 19 years old at the time, told the Daily News she complied with Barkats' demands and took the job at his firm, JS Barkats PLLC, out of financial necessity. "I was very confused as to why the interview was going in the direction it was going," she told the tabloid. "I was very scared, I just felt very threatened."
Villalta's lawsuit describes a pattern of sexual aggression from Barkats. On her first day of work, Barkats, 42, allegedly again demanded sex, and "began to forcefully choke and threaten her, saying 'If I catch you with someone else, I will kill you. You belong to me.'" Villalta claims she was promised a Manhattan apartment, gifts, and promotions if she stayed "obedient" to Barkats.
According to Villalta, her second day of work was interrupted by Barkats commanding her to take an STD test in order to keep her new job. Villalta left the office and never came back. Her suit claims that Barkats then began sending threatening text messages, along with a photo of himself holding a steak knife.
In an interview with the Daily News, Barkats vehemently denied Villalta's claims, and said the 21-year-old is an angry ex-girlfriend of his brother-in-law. "This is completely ludicrous," he said. "It's completely ridiculous, but you know, justice will be served and we'll go all the way with that."
Anonymous reviews of Barkats's firm on Glassdoor describe an aggressive, dishonest work environment. "Employee turnover is very high because he is always threatening to reduce salaries, not sign paychecks and embarrasses employees in meetings and on the floor," one former worker wrote.
Villalta's lawsuit against Barkats is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.