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'Reacher' star Alan Ritchson compares modeling industry to 'legalized sex trafficking': 'It left some scars'

Actor Alan Ritchson opened up about his "horrific" experience working in the modeling industry and how it impacted his mental health moving forward.

Well before he found success as an actor on various TV shows and films, Alan Ritchson got his start in modeling, something he said left him with "scars" due to the "horrific environments" he faced. 

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the "Reacher" star opened up about his experience working in an industry in which, he claimed, "sexual abuse was the goal," and how it impacted his mental health moving forward. 

"There are very few redeeming qualities to working in [the modeling] industry. Let’s be honest, it’s like legalized sex trafficking," said Ritchson, who modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch and various catalog projects. "The industry is not regulated, and it’s a widely known secret that if you’re hired on a job, you’re basically being passed off to a photographer to be trafficked. The number of times and situations where I was put in horrific environments where sexual abuse was the goal, and the paycheck that you were desperate for in order to survive was the carrot, I can’t count on two hands. It was quite often."


While the "Blue Mountain State" alum said he often found himself in uncomfortable positions, he acknowledged that it was even worse for women.

"You’re always dancing around this very terrible line of, ‘How do I keep the job and not completely offend this photographer or this agent or whoever set this thing up, and how do I not get raped?’" he said. "I completely empathize with women who deal with dynamic power struggles with predatory people in the workplace. It’s still unfair, but if I really had to, I could get myself out of whatever room I was in through a physical altercation. Most women don’t have that option. Imagine how terrifying it must be."


After Ritchson was allegedly sexually assaulted by a "very famous photographer," he abruptly quit modeling and never returned. 

"I was sent into a hotel room to do nudes with the promise that if I did the shoot, he would offer me a very lucrative campaign for a magazine and a clothing line. I was sexually assaulted by this guy," he claimed. "I left and drove straight to the agency that I was at in L.A. I stormed in and said, ‘F--- you for sending me there. You knew what was going to happen, and you did it anyway.’ There was a coy smile [on this agent’s face], knowing he got caught. ‘It’s OK,’ he said. ‘Not a big deal, calm down. I won’t send you back there. I know he’s a little aggressive.’"

He continued, "I said, ‘No! F--- you!’ I told them to never call me again. I quit the industry and it was the last photo shoot I’ve ever had. Those pictures were never seen or published. That was it. I swore it off, and thank God, acting found me at the exact same time so I was able to make a switch to a new career, but it left some scars."


Years later, after establishing himself as a successful actor, Ritchson claimed he had found himself in a similar situation while sitting next to well-known industry photographer Mario Testino at the Atelier Versace runway presentation during Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture in January 2014. 

"He wouldn’t keep his hands off me," Ritchson alleged. "The entire time we were sitting at dinner, he was trying to rub my crotch under the table. I was like, ‘Get your hands off me, dude. I lived that life with people like you where you feel like you can just have anybody. I’m not an object to you. I’m way past that now, dude.’ But he was entertained by it. He thought it was the funniest thing."

He continued, "I’m trying to enjoy conversations with the playmakers in the industry, and the whole time, he wouldn’t leave me alone. I ended up leaving early, but he called my hotel room later that night and begged me to come over. He said, ‘I’ve never googled someone right after meeting them. What have you done to me? My car is out front.’ Then he said he loved manly men 'because they kick harder.’ He was disappointed that I wouldn’t come to his place."

Ritchson claimed that Testino had offered him a cover of Vogue if he would sleep with him that night.

"I was like, ‘I don’t give a s--- about the cover of Vogue. I don’t give a s--- about whatever opportunity you want to dangle in front of me,'" he added. 

Testino did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment. 

Ritchson said his past eventually put him in a dark place, causing him to attempt suicide in 2019. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly thereafter.

"I came out of that whole thing asking myself, ‘OK, if I am going to choose to be alive here - a decision we all make, some to a greater degree than others - what am I doing? Why am I here?’ What I kept falling back on was the meaning and purpose of life as someone who believes that there is a creator, and we are created beings, our purpose in life is, without qualification, to make the world a better place and serve others," he said. "That is what life is all about."

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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