John Travolta played a corporate pilot in the 1998 movie "Look Who's… (Joseph Lederer / Tristar…)
Evidence suggesting John Travolta was in New York at the time he is accused of committing sexual battery against a massage therapist in Los Angeles continued to build Thursday, with private flight-tracking information being offered in the actor’s defense and a costume designer vouching for his whereabouts.
Early Thursday, flight information showing the actor’s plane leaving L.A. the evening of April 15 and arriving at a New York airport around 4 a.m. local time was published by TMZ, which had previously posted photos and a dinner receipt provided to several outlets by Travolta’s legal team that also indicated he was on the East Coast on the date the assault is alleged to have occurred.
"Killing Season" costume designer Denise Wingate went on the record Thursday on the actor's behalf, telling TMZ that she had taken the wardrobe shots and was in Travolta's Greenwich Hotel suite with four other people for more than three hours on the afternoon of April 16. She said she also fitted "Killing Season" costar Robert De Niro at the hotel that same day and observed Travolta running lines for the movie.
Before Wingate spoke up, the flight information appeared to close a small window of opportunity left open by the time-stamp on the photos. One caveat: As People pointed out, the flight info on the G2 cannot be cross-checked against public records, because Travolta participates in a blocking program designed for private-jet fliers who have registered security concerns.
The photos themselves got a lot of scrutiny. While the New York Post noted that there was nothing on the pics to prove they were taken in New York, TMZ was comparing marble seen in the background of the pictures with a sales shot of a bathroom at the hotel where Travolta was staying (a reflection of a toilet is also visible in the pictures). Martin Singer, Travolta’s attorney, told the Post that the pictures had been taken at the designer’s lower Manhattan studio, adding that his team also had flight logs and a hotel receipt to prove his client’s whereabouts. A manager at Mr. Chow’s restaurant, where the receipt came from, vouched for the actor’s presence at the restaurant with several others the night of April 16, the Post said.
In a civil suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court, the “Face / Off” and “Welcome Back Kotter” actor was accused by a “John Doe” plaintiff of sexual battery and assault allegedly committed during a 10 a.m. private massage-therapy session at a Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow April 16. The complaint was amended in a filing Monday to add a “John Doe No. 2,” also a masseur, who claimed he’d been sexually assaulted by the actor in Atlanta on April 28.
Each man is seeking $2 million in general damages plus unspecified damages for emotional distress under California Civil Code 51.9, which covers sexual harassment where “a business, service, or professional relationship” exists between two parties. Also mentioned under different parts of the code: attorney’s fees, unspecified punitive damages and a $25,000 civil penalty in each case.
Plaintiff’s attorney Okorie Okorocha told CNN on Wednesday that he had “droves” of potential plaintiffs “from different resorts from every state” lining up to be added to the complaint against Travolta, and that he only has to vet their evidence first.
Okorocha, who was admitted to the California state bar in 2003 and earned the nickname “Dr. DUI” along the way, told CNN that his practice is focused on going after sexual predators. (Watch him have his way with a Breathalyzer and some soy sauce in the video below.) His “California Legal Team” website emphasizes employment law and workplace issues.
Singer has dismissed both men’s allegations as “absurd and ridiculous” and told the Post that an Okorocha claim that Team Travolta had “already conceded” the actor was in L.A. on April 16 “an outrageous lie.” Another Travolta rep has called the first complaint “complete fiction and fabrication,” adding, “None of the events claimed in the suit ever happened.”
Okorocha, who has said he approached Singer to resolve the issue quietly before going public with the initial complaint, didn’t seem intimidated by his legal rival, whose name has appeared on power-lawyer lists for years.