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Note: This story includes graphic descriptions of alleged sexual assaults.
It was the revival of the television series that had made him such an iconic character that was triggering for the two women.
Zoe, now 40, and Lily, now 31, both allege they were sexually assaulted by actor Chris Noth. The two women — who approached The Hollywood Reporter separately, months apart, and who do not know each other — said promotions and press reports of HBO Max’s Sex and the City sequel series And Just Like That, in which Noth reprises his role as Mr. Big, stirred painful memories of incidents they say occurred in Los Angeles in 2004 and in New York in 2015, respectively. To protect their privacy, THR is allowing both women to use pseudonyms.
Lily, now a journalist, reached out to THR in August. “I’m not sure how you go about this sort of story and how you find the other victims,” she wrote in an email. THR heard from Zoe in October. She still works in the entertainment industry and is fearful of repercussions if her identity were known. But “seeing that he was reprising his role in Sex and the City set off something in me,” she says. “For so many years, I buried it.” She decided it was time “to try to go public with who he is.”
Contacted for comment, Noth sent THR a statement: “The accusations against me made by individuals I met years, even decades, ago are categorically false. These stories could’ve been from 30 years ago or 30 days ago — no always means no — that is a line I did not cross. The encounters were consensual. It’s difficult not to question the timing of these stories coming out. I don’t know for certain why they are surfacing now, but I do know this: I did not assault these women.”
After graduating from college in 2004, Zoe — then 22 — moved to Los Angeles to work in an entry-level job for a high-profile firm where Noth and other celebrities regularly had business. “He would walk by my desk and flirt with me. He somehow got my number from the directory and was leaving messages on my work phone. My boss was like, ‘Mr. Big’s leaving messages on your voicemail,'” she says. That (now former) boss tells THR she witnessed Noth talking to Zoe at her desk. Zoe also let her listen to some “kind of flirty” voicemails from him. The ex-boss says she thought it odd that Noth, who was 49 at the time, had gotten Zoe’s number and left those messages but says she didn’t find it alarming. “This was peak Sex and the City,” she says. “He was like a god to us.”
Noth lived in New York but at one point, Zoe says, he invited her to come to the pool at a building in West Hollywood where he had an apartment. She told him she had a friend who lived in the same building and had been to the pool often. That August, she and her best friend from college, who was visiting from the East Coast, excitedly went to the pool to meet Noth. The visiting friend confirms going to the pool and sitting with Zoe and Noth in the jacuzzi.
Zoe says Noth asked her “all sorts of questions about my major and what I studied.” He had a book with him and told her to take a look at it because he was thinking of doing a project based on the material. Then, according to Zoe and her friend, he said he had to go to his apartment to take a call. But he left the book, asking Zoe to look through it and bring it back to his apartment. Zoe was flattered: “He said, ‘I’d love to know what you think.’ I thought, ‘I’m new. He’s asking my opinion — I’ve only been in Hollywood for two months.”
When she went to his apartment to return the book, Zoe says, he kissed her as she stepped through the door. She tentatively kissed back but then said, “Thank you, I’m going back to my friend.” The kiss itself didn’t alarm her; she thought a kiss from Mr. Big would be a fun story to tell her friends. But she says he then pulled her toward him, moved her toward the bed, pulled off her shorts and bikini bottom, and began to rape her from behind. She was facing a mirror. “It was very painful and I yelled out, ‘Stop!’” she says. “And he didn’t. I said, ‘Can you at least get a condom?’ and he laughed at me.”
When it was over, she says, “I realized there was blood on my shirt. I got out of there. I went to my friend’s apartment [in the same building].” The friend visiting from college was already there, she says. “I walked right in and went to the bathroom and tried to get the blood out of my shirt. They wanted to know what happened. I said, ‘I just want to go home.’” The visiting friend pursued her, and said, “You’re scaring me.”
That friend, now a child psychologist in Boston, tells THR that Zoe was strikingly different when she returned from Noth’s apartment. “She went right into the powder room. When she came out she was very aloof, kind of cool. She’s a very gregarious, sweet, friendly person. It was a very weird change.” She asked what happened, but Zoe coldly said she wasn’t going to talk about her personal life. “It was not like her,” the friend says. “We left. Riding the elevator was awkward. She wouldn’t talk. She wouldn’t make eye contact. When we got in the car, I started pressing her: ‘You have to tell me what happened. Something’s wrong.’ I don’t remember the words she said, but I said, ‘I’m taking you to the hospital.’”
The two went to Cedars-Sinai, where Zoe told staff she had been assaulted. “I had stitches. Two police officers came. I wouldn’t say who it was,” Zoe says. She feared that she would not be believed and felt she would be fired if she accused him publicly, or even at her workplace. At the hospital, “They gave me a little crisis counseling brochure and some medicine.” Contacted by THR, Cedars told THR they do not keep records dating back to 2004.
According to Zoe’s former boss, Zoe called her later that day and told her that Noth had attacked her. (Zoe doesn’t remember making that call.) “I was driving behind where Soho House is now, and I think I stopped and pulled over because it was so horrible,” her ex-boss says. “She was very upset, kind of in shock. I was in shock.” But at Zoe’s request, she did not disclose the attack to anyone. “I was 25 at the time,” she says. “It was a lot. I didn’t know what to do.” She notes that this was more than a decade before the #MeToo movement.
Zoe says she started having nightmares and flashbacks; she was finding it hard to concentrate at work, and her appetite was poor. In January 2006, she sought counseling at the UCLA Rape Crisis Center. “I had buried it as long as I could, and then I really wasn’t doing well and finally went to the treatment the ER had recommended,” she says. (Without addressing the details of Zoe’s situation specifically, Julie Banks, clinical director at the Rape Treatment Center, confirms the facility treated her and says it is not uncommon for survivors of sexual assault to put off seeking treatment.)
Zoe was counseled for several months, and then, Zoe says, “for so many years” she tried to bury the memory again. But more recently, the need to reveal the alleged assault grew.
Soon after the alleged rape, Zoe had confided in her mother, who consoled her and said that she had also been a rape victim. In 2018, Zoe’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. “As she was dying, she was haunted by her assault,” Zoe says. “I don’t want to be in the same position, where I’m haunted at the end of my life.”
Lily was a server in the VIP section of the now-shuttered New York nightclub No.8 in 2015 when she met Noth. She had been a fan since he starred in Law & Order, and of course, she knew him from SATC. “I was truly star-struck,” she says. “He was hitting on me, for sure. I was flattered. I knew he was married, which is shameful of me to admit.”
She was 25. He was 60. Noth got her number and asked her out. “I was like, ‘That’s crazy, Mr. Big is asking me out for dinner.'” And he asked her to meet him at Il Cantinori, which as a fan of the show, Lily knew had been the setting for an SATC episode. (Carrie Bradshaw throws her 35th birthday party there).
Lily’s friend Alex, who has known her since high school and who was also living in New York, says she advised her not to go out with Noth. “I just didn’t have a great feeling about it,” she says. “She was like, ‘No, I think he’ll be nice about it. He was nice and respectful when I met him at the club. It’s just dinner.’ But I’ve always been the mom of everyone. Also, when you’re in it, you don’t see the red flags.”
Lily thought the fact that he invited her to dinner showed some interest in getting to know her. But she says when she arrived at the time he had set, the kitchen had closed. They had wine at the bar as Noth talked about his disinclination to appear in a third SATC movie. (That project was finally shelved in 2017.) “He asked me a lot about my job and my trajectory,” she says. She told him she was working on a career in journalism.
As the evening wore on, she says, she had too much to drink, though she was nowhere near blacking out. And she says her fan worship of Noth was such that she almost felt she was having an out-of-body experience just being on the date. With the restaurant closing, he told her his apartment was just around the corner. (Noth has owned a Greenwich Village apartment since 1994.) He had a collection of whiskeys that they could sample. “I was not super sexually active, not wild and crazy,” Lily says. Now, she finds it “humiliating” to admit that she didn’t think he would try to sleep with her. “I thought, ‘We’re going to drink whiskey and talk about his acting career.’ It sounds so stupid.”
The apartment was “an amazing place. We were listening to music, and he has all these books about art and fashion. He tried to make out with me. I cautiously entertained it. He’s older and looked older. He kept trying and trying and trying, and I should have said no more firmly and left. And then the next thing I knew, he pulled down his pants and he was standing in front of me.” He thrust his penis into her mouth, she says.
Lily says she brought up that he was married with children. (Noth had married in 2012 and at the time had one child.) “He said marriage is a sham. Monogamy is not real.” The next thing she knew, “He was having sex with me from the back in a chair. We were in front of a mirror. I was kind of crying as it happened.” When it was over, she says, “I went to the bathroom and put on my skirt. I was feeling awful. Totally violated. All of my dreams with this star I loved for years were gone.” She called an Uber. Revisiting this brings her to tears, yet she says she finds it freeing to tell the story.
Lily’s friend Alex says she called her from the car. “She was pretty hysterical,” she says. Lily told her that he had “pretty forcibly” had sex with her, and Alex said they should call the police. But Lily wouldn’t hear of it. Lily says she doesn’t remember making the call.
By the next day, Alex says Lily had started trying to minimize the incident. “She said, ‘I’m overreacting, just forget it.” But Alex says she listened to a voicemail that Noth had left on Lily’s phone. “It was, ‘Hey, hope you didn’t take anything wrong last night. We had fun. Just want to make sure you didn’t take it the wrong way.'” To Alex, it seemed “very much, ‘I know I did something bad, but I’m trying to make it seem like it wasn’t a big deal.’” Lily remembers that message a bit differently. “He left a voicemail saying, ‘I had a nice time and would really appreciate it if you wouldn’t talk to your girlfriends. If we could keep this between you and me, that would be great,’” she says.
THR reviewed texts Noth and Lily exchanged in March and April 2015. In one, Noth messaged: “By the way I have to ask did you enjoy our night last week. I thought it was a lot of fun but I wasn’t quite sure how you felt.” Lily replied: “Hmm…I certainly enjoyed your company. Great conversation. Not to go into specifics over text message, but I did feel slightly used… Perhaps this is better as a phone conversation but I can’t talk at the moment.” Noth mentioned hoping to meet again for dinner or drinks. Lily continued to respond in a friendly but noncommittal way. At one point, she agreed to dinner, then canceled. She continued to put him off, and they never met again.
“If you do want to have a drink later it doesn’t have to be at my place…although I have the best whiskey,” he wrote in one exchange. “Come have a drink with me before I leave [town]. Oh mysterious one… where did you go.”
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