Upton told Time magazine that on the first day of a Guess Lingerie shoot in July 2010, she was accosted by Marciano and groped.
“Paul came straight up to me, forcibly grabbing my breasts and started feeling them,” Upton said. “After I pushed him away, he said, ‘I’m making sure they’re real.'”
Upton said Marciano continued to touch her “in a very dominating and aggressive way” — touching her thighs, her arms, her shoulders, her neck. At one point, he allegedly grabbed the back of her head so she couldn’t move and began kissing her face and neck. Upton said she managed to wriggle away.
Marciano offered to walk her to her hotel room.
“I immediately declined,” Upton said. “The only thing I was thinking is if he touches me like that in public, I can’t imagine what he’d try to do in private.”
In a statement to Time, Marciano described Upton’s accusations as “absolutely false” and “preposterous.” He said he was never alone with her or touched her inappropriately. He said he has told Guess’ board of directors that he would give his full support to an impartial investigation but added, “I will not allow others to defame me and tarnish my reputation.”
Upton said the overtures continued. After her repeated refusals, she said she fired from the shoot — “someone had called my agency to say I had gotten fat and would not be needed.”
Upton told Time that Marciano remained in contact, “constantly” contacting her about her next shoot. He allegedly sent texts saying he was excited to see her and asked if she would be willing to change in front of him, “so he could see my naked body getting into his clothes.”
After she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in 2012, Guess offered Upton $400,000 to appear in a campaign. As the shoot date approached, Upton said Marciano began texting her, instructing her not to bring her boyfriend.
“I just couldn’t do it,” Upton said. “I refused the campaign. I couldn’t accept the money.”
Upton said her encounters with Marciano took a toll on her confidence and self-worth. She told Time she blamed herself and wondered, “How much of myself am I required to sacrifice?”
Emboldened by the #MeToo movement, Upton chose to speak out.
“Paul used his power to make me feel insecure and powerless, but I’m not going to let him intimidate me anymore,” Upton told the magazine. “These men think they are untouchable, but times are changing.”