BVAC namesake Leon Black ’73 reaches settlement with U.S. Virgin Islands as new lawsuit alleging rape surfaces

A lawsuit has been filed accusing Black of raping an autistic 16-year-old at Epstein’s home in 2002.

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 7/25/23 8:40pm

by Hannah Li / The Dartmouth Staff

Over the past few days, new allegations and a settlement agreement have arisen in relation to Leon Black ’73, a former College trustee and namesake of the Black Visual Arts Center. Earlier today, a new lawsuit filed in Manhattan court accuses Black of raping an autistic 16-year-old in 2002, according to Forbes, while on July 21, the New York Times reported that Black agreed to pay $62.5 million over claims relating to the U.S. Virgin Island’s investigation into Jeffery Epstein.

The lawsuit filed today was made by an anonymous woman known as Jane Doe and alleges that Black raped her in Epstein’s townhouse when she was 16-years-old in spring or summer 2002. An attorney representing Black — Susan Estrich of Estrich Goldin — was cited by Forbes describing the lawsuit as “frivolous and sanctionable.”

The previously undisclosed settlement took place in January, in which representatives of the Virgin Islands’ government and Black met in a “private mediation session” to settle claims. Black paid in cash, according to the settlement document. As a result of the agreement, Black will be released from “any potential claims” in the territory’s investigation into Epstein. While the settlement does not prevent other people from filing claims against Black, the document noted that the settlement could not be utilized as “evidence of wrongdoing by Black,” according to the New York Times.

The recent lawsuit alleging rape follows those made by Cheri Pierson in November 2022 and Guzel Ganieva in June 2021. The plaintiffs in the three lawsuits are represented by Wigdor Law, with the expectation of Ganieva, who parted ways with the firm in March 2023. Pierson’s case is ongoing, while Ganieva’s case was dismissed in May due to legal flaws in the plaintiff’s argument and a previously signed non-disclosure agreement, according to Forbes.

Previous allegations made by Pierson and Ganieva have spurred calls from the Dartmouth community to rename the Black Visual Arts Center. The College, however, has not made any decision regarding renaming the building. In November 2022, College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote that the College had no plans to rename BVAC.