In a world where celebrities are often accused of sexual misconduct, the accusations aren’t the problem for Terry Richardson. It’s the fact that in a number of the photographs he has taken, very young models are performing sexual acts by themselves, with each other, or with Richardson himself. In his favour, none of them seem to exactly be having a terrible time, the problem is what happens when they get home and have a chance to think about it. Terry Richardson was back in the spotlight this week after allegeging sending a 'sex text' to a well known model.

terry richardson allegationsTerry Richardson has been accused by several models of sexual misconduct

In March 2010 model Rie Rasmussen remarked, “He takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of. They are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them on the job and are too young to stand up for themselves.” And indeed, what aspiring model could say no to the Terry Richardson, go-to-guy for Vogue magazine? 

Richardson has photographed the most powerful people in the world and the biggest celebrities, from Barack Obama to Justin Bieber, no celebrity has escaped the white screen and bright glare of Terry Richardson’s studio. While some of his more famous female models, such as Miley Cyrus and Kate Upton, are happy to don minuscule bikinis or catsuits cut at the crotch, many of his shots are still considered tasteful and certainly very stylized. Much like a Helmut Newton or a Mario Testino, you can tell a Terry Richardson shot just by looking at it.

There’s something unsettling, though, when you consider that the President of the United States has been photographed by a man who carries with him such an air of uncertainty - something accentuated this week by his alleged 'sex text' to British model Emma Appleton. 

For the first time ever, perhaps too late, Richardson has responded to the sexual assault allegations publicly. In a Huffington Post blog, he claims, “I collaborated with consenting adult women who were fully aware of the nature of the work, and as is typical with any project, everyone signed releases”. He slams the accusations as “false”, but admits, “I have come to accept that some of my more provocative work courts controversy, and as an artist, I value the discourse that arises from this.”

barack obama terry richardsonPresident Barack Obama has been photographed by Terry Richardson

Richardson’s mistake is, perhaps, to not once address the young women who feel violated by him. He raises no hands to accept that while the photographs may have been initially consented to, there has still clearly been adverse psychological repercussions for the young models involved. Young women are not inanimate dolls who can be contorted for art. While on paper they may have thought they could handle the shoot, the mounting accusations suggest that Richardson's style may push too far. Whether the accusations are true or false, the main problem lies with the fact that Terry Richardson still doesn’t recognise this.