Playboy Landlord’s Pal Flips on Him in Sex-Trafficking Suit

Two California businessmen and notorious playboys were accused last year of participating in an international sex trafficking ring. Now, one appears to have flipped on the other, and is providing evidence to suggest that his friend may have been engaged in a harassment campaign against his accusers.Ten women sued Danny Fitzgerald, a Hollywood real estate…

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Two California businessmen and notorious playboys were accused last year of participating in an international sex trafficking ring. Now, one appears to have flipped on the other, and is providing evidence to suggest that his friend may have been engaged in a harassment campaign against his accusers.

Ten women sued Danny Fitzgerald, a Hollywood real estate developer and landlord to the stars, and pal Steven Powers last November, claiming they took part in a trafficking operation perpetuated by Canadian fashion designer Peter Nygard. The lawsuit against Fitzgerald claims the developer also maintained a ring of his own, deceiving women into living with him and then forcing them into sexual acts.

Powers, a 78-year-old investor and developer, settled his suit earlier this year, but Fitzgerald—court filings allege—went on the warpath, distributing flyers and posting YouTube videos about his accusers that referred to them as “evil prostitutes” and declared they were involved in “witchcraft” and “satanism.” (The title of one such video included the name of an accuser followed by the words “Beware For Your Life.”)

Fitzgerald has long denied any involvement in sex trafficking or creating the flyers and videos. But in a declaration filed Friday by the plaintiffs, Powers suggested otherwise.

This summer, in an email exchange about the lawsuit, Powers claims, Fitzgerald directed him to “make your WhatsApp work” so he could send him “those nice videos we’re making.” (Screenshots of the messages are included in the filing.) Later that day, Powers alleges, Fitzgerald texted him to say he was “going to send you the stuff now,” then forwarded him numerous video clips that were later included in the videos posted on YouTube. He emailed again the next day, asking for “any more good information or any evidence” they could use to “build this video better,” according to Powers’ filing.

No one can prove I was involved.

Powers said in the declaration that Fitzgerald eventually sent him a link to the finished video, which included a pixelated image of Powers. When Powers confronted Fitzgerald about the image, the document says, he did not deny his involvement, but instead apologized and said it was “no big deal.” Powers claims that when he asked Fitzgerald if he was responsible for the video, he replied: “No one can prove I was involved.”

In August, Powers claims, Fitzgerald contacted him again to say he hoped his friend hadn’t settled with the defendants—whom he referred to as “those assholes.” Powers responded by congratulating him on “that video you did,” to which Fitzgerald allegedly responded: “More to come,” screenshots show.

The communications were submitted as part of the plaintiffs’ motion for contempt against Fitzgerald, whom they claim in court filings has been harassing them for months. One woman, identified only as Jane Doe 5, alleges Fitzgerald distributed flyers with her name and face and false information around her neighborhood in Cabo, and also berated her in front of her family, calling her a prostitute, a drug dealer, and a sex trafficker—claims that later surfaced in the YouTube videos.

The videos in question were uploaded to a channel entitled “The Not Me Movement,” and contain the names and faces of several of Fitzgerald’s accusers. The first video claims the plaintiffs were bribed to participate in the suit, and that their lawyers were funded by a “mobster” with ties to the KKK. A second video uploaded this month contains graphic illustrations of one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers defecating in Peter Nygard’s mouth, saying: “I’m a crooked lawyer, I’ll do anything for money.”

The latest video, which was uploaded after the court issued its injunction against Fitzgerald for harassing the plaintiffs, also contains a clip of Powers reading a script he says the developer tricked him into reading. When he contacted Fitzgerald about it, Powers claims, his friend responded that he had tried calling him first, and that “it was only up for a couple of hours.”

“We can talk later and work on a game plan,” he allegedly added.

In a motion for reconsideration of the injunction filed earlier this month, Fitzgerald claimed he did not create the videos and does not own or operate the channels where they were uploaded. He also claimed that Jane Doe No. 5 was the one harassing him; allegedly calling in a fake tip about him to the Mexican police and demanding $50,000 not to join the lawsuit. “Should any injunctive relief be appropriate, it would be to prevent Jane Doe No. 5’s systematic harassment and defamation of Defendant,” the motion reads, pointing to social media posts in which she allegedly accused him of “raping people [and] having sex with minors.”

A lawyer for Fitzgerald told The Daily Beast he was planning to file an opposition to the motion for contempt next month, addressing “all of Mr. Powers’ false claims.” He also said he had correspondence to suggest that the declaration may have been part of Powers’ settlement agreement.

The lawsuit against Fitzgerald, filed last November in a federal court in California, accuses the developer of participating in a 25-year-long sex trafficking ring allegedly run by Nygard. According to the Department of Justice, Nygard lured dozens of women—some of them underage—with false promises of financial support and modeling gigs, and then forced them to sleep with his rich and powerful friends. Nygard has denied any wrongdoing.

Several of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim Fitzgerald was one of the friends they were coerced into sleeping with, while others claim they were part of Fitzgerald’s own network of “girlfriends.” One woman claims that after agreeing to live with Fitzgerald with no strings attached, he started demanding that she have threesomes with him and raped her in her sleep. Another claims he convinced her to move in with false promises of a job opportunity, then demanded sexual favors. This woman claims he later violently sexually assaulted her, dislocating her shoulder and tearing her labrum.

Fitzgerald’s lawyer previously told The Daily Beast that the plaintiffs were attempting to “muddy the waters” by tying his client to Nygard.

“He’s not connected to [Nygard], he has nothing to do with what he’s being accused of, and he’s literally his own person,” attorney Ernest Badway said.

Outside of his association with Nygard, Fitzgerald is best known for renting out multimillion-dollar properties in the Hollywood Hills to celebrities like Justin Bieber, Nelly, and The Weeknd, and for throwing notoriously large parties. His largest complex—which stretches more than 46,000 square feet and contains its own private nightclub—racked up so many noise complaints that the Los Angeles city attorney had to intervene.

In a 2015 profile in The Hollywood Reporter, however, Fitzgerald suggested he was growing bored of running his real estate empire.

“I quit. I’m tired,” he said at the time. “How much longer can I surf well and have all these young girlfriends?”

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