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California

Billionaire hologram producer hit with $11-million sexual harassment verdict

HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. -- FRIDAY, SEPT. 22, 2017: Billionaire Alki David and a view of the interior of H
Alki David is the founder of Hologram USA, which famously created holograms of artists including rapper Tupac Shakur and pop star Michael Jackson.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A California jury ordered billionaire hologram producer Alki David and two companies he founded to pay $11.1 million in a sexual harassment and battery trial involving a former employee who said she was fired after she refused to have sex with the executive.

The jury found that David, 51, committed sexual battery against Chasity Jones, 42, when she worked for FilmOn.TV Networks, an online television service, and for Hologram USA, which operates a hologram theater in Hollywood that has produced holographic images of entertainers Billie Holiday, Jackie Wilson and Bernie Mac.

On Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rafael Ongkeko ordered jurors to reconsider their initial $4.6 million compensatory damages verdict — which covered lost wages, medical expenses and non-economic losses, such as emotional distress — after they mistakenly included punitive damages. The panel deliberated for less than an hour before announcing the lower amount of $3.1 million.

Because jurors found the defendants acted with malice, the second phase to determine whether Jones should be awarded punitive damages was triggered. The panel heard evidence and ordered David to pay $8 million in punitive damages for committing sexual battery.

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During the two-week trial, Jones testified that David inappropriately touched her and showed her a pornographic video on her work computer. She also said the defendant brought a male stripper into the workplace to celebrate the birthday of one of his executives. She said she found the stripper’s appearance offensive and considered it sexual harassment.

Jurors found that Jones, who was hired in January 2015 and fired in November 2016, was subjected to unwanted sexual harassment and battery. They agreed that she was wrongfully discharged after refusing the executive’s advances. The jury also deemed that workplace management knew or should have known about the harassment and hostile environment but failed to address it.

“Mr. David will be filing an appeal to reverse what he believes was an unfair and unjust judgment.” Ellyn Garofalo, David’s attorney, said in a statement.

Friday’s verdict brought an end to a tense trial that included an outburst from David during his testimony Tuesday in which he verbally attacked Jones’ attorney, Lisa Bloom, and left the courtroom under the escort of a sheriff’s deputy.

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“It has been one of the great moments of my life to deliver justice to Chasity Jones, who the jury found was sexually harassed and sexually assaulted by Alki David, and fired from her job for opposing his advances,” Bloom said. “It took 2-½ years for us to get to this point. [This] is a huge verdict for us and for all victims.”

A spokesperson for David denied the allegations and said the executive did not abuse or harass Jones.

“He is going to do everything he can to vindicate himself.”

Jones and former co-worker Elizabeth Taylor, who also alleges sexual harassment and wrongful termination, filed the lawsuit in February 2017. Taylor’s claims will go to trial in July.

David is an heir of the Leventis-David Group, which made its fortune bottling Coca-Cola.

City News Service contributed to this report.


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