Paul Marciano, the influential co-founder of Guess, has stepped away from his day-to-day duties on unpaid leave while the company investigates recent allegations of improper conduct made by model-actress Kate Upton. She came forward earlier this month to accuse Marciano of assaulting and harassing her when she was 18, saying that on the first day of a Guess Lingerie shoot in July 2010, he accosted and groped her. Marciano has denied the claims.

“I have pledged my full cooperation to the Company, and I have the utmost confidence in our CEO, Victor Herrero, to continue leading the Company during this time,” Marciano said today in a statement announcing the move.

The company said its board of directors “formed a Special Committee comprised of two independent directors to oversee an ongoing investigation,” which is being conducted by O’Melveny & Myers. The committee has also retained the law firm Glaser Weil.

“The Company takes very seriously any allegations of sexual misconduct, is committed to maintaining a safe work environment, and looks forward to the completion of a thorough investigation of all the facts,” it said today.

Upton told Time magazine on February 7 that “Paul used his power to make me feel insecure and powerless, but I’m not going to let him intimidate me anymore. These men think they are untouchable, but times are changing.”