A billionaire entrepreneur alleged to have sexually harassed a woman who worked for him left a Los Angeles courtroom in anger Tuesday as the plaintiff's attorney was giving her opening statement to a jury that will decide the plaintiff's case.
"You are a ... liar, you are disgusting," Alki David shouted from his seat in the gallery before exiting the courtroom in the middle of attorney Lisa Bloom's presentation, at the end of which she said her client is seeking $10 million in damages.
Bloom, who represents 42-year-old plaintiff Chastity Jones, told the jury that they had gotten a glimpse of David's behavior.
Top news of the day
Judge Rafael Ongkeko did not make any comment about the defendant's actions.
David's lawyer, Ellyn Garofalo, said in her opening statement that Jones never made any allegations against David until after she was fired.
Before that, Jones praised her boss and said she loved her job, according to Garofalo, who described her client's business as a "wild and outrageous place" in which sexual innuendo was common.
Jones worked for two of David's companies, Hologram USA and FilmOn.TV.
David was behind the hologram technology that brought slain rapper Tupac Shakur to Coachella in 2012 and saw the late Michael Jackson moonwalk at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.
Jones and another former sales accountant, Elizabeth Taylor, sued David in February 2017. Taylor's allegations against the Beverly Hills resident and heir to a Coca-Cola bottling fortune will be tried later.
"This is a case about a sexual predator running loose in a company he controlled," Bloom told jurors in her opening statement. "She (Jones) was fired because she refused to have sex with him."
Bloom said Jones is a single mom who was drawn to David's FilmOn.TV in January 2015 because she liked the idea of making commissions to better support her 15-year-old daughter. She later became friends with a co-worker, Mary Rizzo, who would also later sue David on similar grounds, Bloom said.
Not long after taking the job, David came up to Jones from behind, placed his hands on her shoulders and told her to follow him on Instagram, Bloom said. Jones pulled away and said no, but David repeated the behavior a few days later, Bloom alleged. She showed the jury one of David's alleged Instagram postings containing a photo depicting the former Bruce Jenner with a stunned look on his face and a message that read, "When you play with your vagina for the first time."
David's first expression of dissatisfaction with Bloom's remarks in the courtroom came when she described a workplace visit by a male stripper dressed as a police officer. He laughed as Bloom described Jones as a Christian woman who was offended by the action.
Bloom told jurors that on another occasion, David grabbed Taylor by the ankles and held her upside down, exposing her underwear. Jones, disturbed by what she saw, wondered to herself if the same thing could happen to her, the attorney said.
Tired of the atmosphere, Jones left for a short time to work in the medical field, but returned at the recommendation of Rizzo, who said things had improved in the workplace, Bloom said. Jones also looked forward to getting a raise and a large commission for a project she began working on at Hologram USA during her second stint with David in October 2015, Bloom said.
Shortly thereafter, Jones' mother died, Bloom said. David pretended to be sympathetic, but during a meeting with the plaintiff to talk about her mother, he ran his hands up her legs, Bloom alleged.
David also began harassing Jones to sign a document stating that she did not witness one of the disturbing incidents in the workplace, Bloom said. Jones eventually signed the document and got only half the commission she expected from her project, Bloom said.
David also ordered Jones to watch an adult-oriented video, "Two Girls, One Cup," on her computer, leaving her feeling "demeaned," Bloom said.
Jones was fired in November 2016, her attorney said.
Jones was the first witness in the trial. Asked how she reacted to the Jenner posting on David's Instagram account, she replied, "I felt violated and it was embarrassing."
She said that after she posted a photo of herself in a bathing suit on her own Instagram account, David urged her to publish more such images of herself.
Jones said that after the stripper incident, she wondered what would have happened if her daughter had stopped by her mother's job on the way home from school.
"It made me feel horrible and uncomfortable," Jones said of the stripper's appearance.
Rizzo settled her allegations against David and is scheduled to testify in the Jones trial.