Lawsuit and Abuse in San Diego Modeling Industry

Edited 3/1/2016

Leander James and Craig Vernon from James, Vernon & Weeks, PA is partnering with Hamilton-James to defend a woman who modeled as a teen 25 years ago in San Diego is suing a well-known modeling school, claiming it is responsible for booking photographers who sexually abused her.

At age 14, Kyser enrolled at Barbizon modeling school in San Diego. Like many young girls, Kyser dreamed of being famous. But that dream turned into a nightmare after her first modeling shoot when she says Barbizon sent her to the Bonita home of a photographer – alone.

Full news articles:


Former teen model sues modeling school over alleged sex assault

Press Release



 WHAT:           Press Conference.  Janine Kyser, formerly of San Diego, and her attorneys will discuss a civil sexual abuse lawsuit filed with the Superior Court of the State of California on Wednesday, February 24, 2016.  Janine will talk about the risk of sexual harm to children in the modeling industry and use her story of abuse as an example of the lack of protection for children in the industry.

WHEN:           Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. Pacific

WHERE:         Law offices of Elliott Kanter

2445 5th Ave #350

San Diego, CA 92101

 WHO:           Plaintiff Janine Kyser is represented by Hamilton James, an attorney team formed by nationally-known child advocates Leander “Lee” James, Craig Vernon, Patrick Noaker and Constitutional lawyer  and Professor Marci Hamilton along with their Southern California team member Elliott Kanter.

[Click Here for Complaint Filed in San Diego County Superior Court on February 24, 2016]


Child model exposes Barbizon School of modeling in San Diego as negligent when it sent the young girl to multiple photo shoots where she was sexually abused by the photographers who are now wanted on outstanding warrants by the San Diego County Sheriff.

Janine’s story of sexual abuse is an example of the lack of protection for children in the modeling industry.  In 1992, at age 14, Janine’s parents enrolled her in a Barbizon School of Modeling.  Barbizon used the allure of fame to attract her and her parents with promises that she would meet agents, casting directors and have a chance to be discovered.    Even after her graduation from the school, it continued to solicit her with promises that she would  “Meet agents and casting directors! Star in National Ad!” and “This is your chance to be discovered!”  Barbizon promised to train her and find her modeling jobs.

Janine attended class once a week.  Barbizon “teachers” instructed her on application of make-up, walking a “runway”, acting and posing for photographs.  She graduated in January 1993 at age 15, receiving a “Certificate of Graduation.”

Sometime in the summer of 1993, the Barbizon School called Janine’s mother with a modeling job.  Barbizon instructed her mother to take Janine to a studio in Bonita, California.  Janine and her parents were excited; this was Janine’s chance, at age 15, to start a modeling career.  “My parents trusted Barbizon and believed they were looking out for me,” explains Janine.  Janine’s mother drove Janine to the first photo shoot, followed by two more during which two photographers sexually molested Janine. At no time did Barbizon monitor the photo shoots or ask Janine about them.

Janine felt confusion, fear and shame as a child and did not tell anyone of the abuse. Later in the summer of 1993, the Barbizon School called Janine’s mother and told her that the photographers had been arrested on charges related to misconduct with children.  Janine then told her mother of the molestation.

Janine did not tell anyone else of the sexual molestation.  She felt safe, believing that the couple had been arrested and, she assumed, prosecuted.  Janine stopped thinking about them and what they had done to her until September of 2014, when she was preparing her disabled 11-year-old daughter for the first day of school.  Janine felt an overwhelming urge to find out what had happened to the couple who had molested her.  Janine investigated on the internet and found outstanding warrants for photographers.  Janine then called the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and found out that the photographers had skipped bail and were never prosecuted.  Janine realized that during all these years these child molesters probably abused other children.

Janine immediately called the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, and it proceeded to investigate.  The investigation has lead to four warrants currently outstanding for the couple relating to the abuse of at least two children, including Janine.  However, nothing has been done to hold Barbizon accountable.

“This industry exposes children to predators,” said Janine’s attorney, Leander James.  “They paint them with make-up, dress them provocatively, and expose them.  No wonder Janine is only one of many victims. Until this industry institutes policies and procedures that make certain children are protected, the abuse will continue.”

Janine wants to specifically identify her abusers and those responsible at Barbizon.  However, technical rules in California require that she name them in the Complaint as “Doe” defendants.

“The pedophiles who violated Janine are still out there,” said Janine’s local attorney, Elliott Kanter. “The kids in our community are at risk.  As soon as we are allowed, we will file an amended complaint naming them.”

Janine could have protected her identity by naming herself as a “Doe” Plaintiff.  When asked why she hasn’t, she responded, “I want all sexual abuse survivors, and particularly those in the modeling industry, to know that the abuse was not their fault, they are not alone, and they should not fear speaking out and standing for justice.  The shame is not ours; it belongs to those who exposed us to molesters and the molesters.”  Her attorneys will soon file court papers  to identify the individuals.

Craig Vernon, James’s partner and fellow team member, said, “Janine’s courage, identifying herself and speaking out against child sexual abuse in the modeling industry, is an extraordinary example of bravery by a women who is empowering herself and overcoming her past.”

According to Professor Hamilton, there is a startling disparity between the number of women sexual abuse survivors versus men who speak out.  Quoting statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Hamilton says, “While one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before they turn 18, far more men speak out as adult survivors than women. The modeling arena is one where girls are at serious risk of abuse and where many have yet to come forward.  I hope Janine inspires them.”

“We are increasingly concerned that female survivors have not come forward,” said Patrick Noaker. “We hope others, like Janine, will find their voices so the public will learn who is exposing children to predators and stop them.”




Photograph of Janine at age 15

Brochure and Entry Form

Janine Kyser and Hamilton James grants permission to any media outlet to reprint or otherwise use these images.

Click to Visit Hamilton James Website

Click to Visit Noaker Law Firm Website    

Boundary County reviewing Nault case

Coeur d’Alene Press / 2.16.16

COEUR d’ALENE — Nearly seven months after the drowning of 16-year-old Reggie Nault on Lake Coeur d’Alene, no charges have been filed related to the death and the Boundary County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case.

Nault, who was a member of the Coeur d’Alene High varsity baseball team, was with two male juvenile friends on July 21, 2015, when he either fell or jumped from a moving boat without a life jacket, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.

Nault’s body was recovered from the lake on Aug. 3. Alcohol intoxication was a condition related to Nault’s accidental death and the cause was asphyxia due to a freshwater drowning, according to a Kootenai County coroner’s report released on Oct. 23.

The KCSO forwarded its investigative report on the case to the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office on Jan. 14. The KCSO is not commenting further on the case until a decision is made by a prosecutor on whether to file charges, nor is it discussing whether it made any recommendations to the prosecutor on charges.

Read more at the Coeur d’Alene Press here.

Man sues Mennonite church over alleged abuse

Coeur d’Alene Press / 2.12.16

COEUR d’ALENE — A lawsuit filed Wednesday claims a child was sexually abused by his father, while leaders of a Mennonite church in Bonners Ferry failed to protect the boy.

The lawsuit was filed late Wednesday by attorneys with the Coeur d’Alene firm of James, Vernon and Weeks. It states Clayton Peaster was 11 when the alleged molestation occurred. He is now 27.

The defendants named in the suit are Mt. View Mennonite Church, Inc., the National Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, and Clayton’s adoptive parents, David Peaster and his wife, Cynthia Peaster.

During a press conference held Thursday at the firm’s office, Clayton’s attorney, Craig Vernon, said the child was adopted by the Peasters who both belonged to Mt. View Mennonite Church. The Kansas-based Church of God in Christ Mennonite, commonly known as the Holdeman Mennonites, is the parent organization of Mt. View.

Vernon went over details of the suit, which alleges that David Peaster sexually molested Clayton and an older boy several times over a four-year period. The suit claims during that time, Clayton told a deacon in the church that he was being molested.

Read more at the Coeur d’Alene Press here.