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Aniston Sues Over Topless Photos

The actress accuses a paparazzo of shooting images while she was in the privacy of her home.

December 06, 2005|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

A suit filed by actress Jennifer Aniston accuses a paparazzo of invading her privacy last month by using a powerful telephoto lens to take photos of her topless or partially undressed in her home.

The suit filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court is the latest counterattack by Hollywood's top stars against paparazzi, who are accused of becoming increasingly aggressive as competition for images and the number of celebrity magazines has increased.

The suit comes amid an ongoing probe by the district attorney's office into allegations of misconduct by photographers of celebrities.

Aniston, star of the longtime NBC television hit "Friends," alleges that Peter Brandt used "a high-powered telephoto lens" to capture images of her partially clothed within her property in violation of California's privacy laws. The suit does not say where the home is.

The 34-year-old actress, who has appeared in such movies as "Derailed," "Along Came Polly" and "The Good Girl," is seeking monetary damages and a court order to stop Brandt and anyone else from exploiting the photographs commercially.

Brandt, whose photos of celebrities have appeared in People magazine and the New York Post, could not be reached for comment.

With her recent and highly publicized divorce from actor Brad Pitt, Aniston has become a hot target for paparazzi. It is not the first time Aniston has sued over topless images taken of her inside her property.

Two years ago, Francois Navarre, owner of the largest Los Angeles paparazzi agency, X-17, admitted no wrongdoing but paid the actress $550,000 to settle an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit over photos of her sunbathing topless in her backyard.

Those photos were taken by a photographer with a telephoto lens who scaled a neighbor's 8-foot wall, according to court records. The photos ran in several publications known for racy celebrity images.

In August, another man broke into Aniston's Malibu home when she was away. Two employees confronted the man, and he was subsequently charged with felony burglary.

In the lawsuit, Aniston's attorneys, Jay Lavely and Yael E. Holtkamp, say Brandt must have observed Aniston "from a great distance through invasive, intrusive and unlawful measures."

They say Brandt's photos "could have been taken only by means of trespass" and the images were taken in a place where she had reasonable expectations of privacy. The suit does not specify whether Aniston was photographed through windows.

According to the suit, Brandt has tried to sell the photos to several unnamed publications and media outlets.

Under California law, Aniston could get triple damages if her suit is successful.

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