7:23pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Brett Ratner Sues Woman for Libel Over Rape Allegation
Brett Ratner is suing a woman who claims he raped her more than a decade ago. The lawsuit comes on the heels of an explosive Wednesday report in the Los Angeles Times in which six women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge, say they were sexually assaulted or harassed by the director-producer.
Melanie Kohler is not quoted in the piece. Instead, she made her claims on Facebook more than a week before the story broke. Ratner on Wednesday filed a complaint in Hawaii federal court denying the allegations and categorizing the social media post as libel per se.
According to the suit, Kohler wrote an Oct. 20 post stating that Ratner "was a rapist on at least one night in Hollywood about 12 years ago" and "preyed on me as a drunk girl [and] forced himself upon me."
Ratner's Hawaii counsel Eric Seitz argues the statements are entirely false, fabricated and fictional and that Kohler published them maliciously. Ratner is seeking an unspecified amount of general, special and punitive damages, and claims he's suffered emotional distress, worry, anger and anxiety and his personal and professional reputations have been injured.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ratner and Warner Bros., where Ratner had a first-look deal, parted ways.
"In light of the allegations being made, I am choosing to personally step away from all Warner Bros.-related activities," Ratner said in a statement. "I don’t want to have any possible negative impact to the studio until these personal issues are resolved."
Shortly after Ratner's statement, Warner Bros. said they would not renew Ratner's first-look deal, which had since expired. Moreover, Ratner will lose his plum RatPac Entertainment offices, which he was renting on the studio lot and were once used by Frank Sinatra.