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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Vin Diesel accused of sexual battery by former assistant in civil lawsuit

Actor Vin Diesel is being sued by his former assistant, Asta Jonasson, for alleged sexual battery and wrongful termination, among other claims, relating to a 2010 incident, according to a complaint filed Thursday in Los Angeles.

The suit, obtained by CBS News, also names Diesel’s sister, film producer Samantha Vincent, and One Race Films, the production company founded by Diesel and run by Vincent.

“Ms. Jonasson’s lawsuit seeks to hold Vin Diesel accountable for his sexual assaults, and her former employer accountable for its unlawful termination of her employment and cover up of the sexual assaults,” Jonasson’s attorney, Claire-Lise Kutlay, said in a statement to CBS News.

In a statement provided to CBS News, Bryan Freedman, an attorney for the actor, wrote: “Let me be very clear, Vin Diesel categorically denies this claim in its entirety. This is the first he has ever heard about this more than 13 year old claim made by a purportedly 9 day employee. There is clear evidence which completely refutes these outlandish allegations.”

The civil suit alleges that while Jonasson was working for Diesel in Atlanta, where he was filming “Fast Five,” he forced himself on her in a hotel room. The complaint states that he groped her chest and kissed her as she struggled to break free and continued to refuse his advances.

“Vin Diesel ignored Ms. Jonasson’s clear statements of non-consent to his sexual assaults,” the suit says. It alleges that Diesel then attempted to remove Jonasson’s underwear before she screamed and attempted to get to a nearby bathroom.

“Ms. Jonasson was unable to escape and closed her eyes, scared of angering Vin Diesel by rejecting him further and trying to dissociate, wishing the assault would end,” reads the text of the complaint, adding that she “was frozen in a state of shock and unable to move” until he finally released her.

Jonasson alleges that just hours later, Diesel’s sister called her and terminated her employment.

Jonasson says that she remained silent for years out of fear but that she was empowered by the #MeToo movement to speak up, and was able to file the suit under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act. The law was passed in Sept. 2022 and provides a three-year window for survivors to file a claim that would have ordinarily expired under the state’s statute of limitations.

Jonasson is seeking damages that include a $10,000 civil penalty for each violation, plus unspecified damages for emotional distress and compensatory damages that may include income she would have received if not for Diesel’s conduct.

“No one should be forced to endure sexual assault or lose their job for resisting sexual assault. No one is too famous or powerful to evade justice,” Kutlay said. “We hope Ms. Jonasson’s courageous decision to come forward helps create lasting change and empowers other survivors.”

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