Production of a television show featuring reserve deputy and movie star Steven Seagal will be suspended "for the time being" as Seagal faces sexual harassment allegations, a suburban New Orleans sheriff said Wednesday.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said the continued video recording of the reality series, "Steven Seagal Lawman," would be a distraction for the department in light of allegations made against Seagal by a woman in a California civil lawsuit.
Kayden Nguyen, a 23-year-old model, sued Seagal for $1 million on Monday in Los Angeles, alleging he sexually harassed her and engaged in sex trafficking. Her lawsuit claims Seagal hired her as an executive assistant and flew her to Louisiana while he was making the reality series and repeatedly groped and fondled her.
She claims she was kept at a house in Lafitte, La., for several days and that Seagal repeatedly fondled and groped her, touching her genitals and breasts without permission. She claims two other women were kept at the house and were used by the actor for sexual purposes.
She also claims Seagal forced her to take illegal prescription medications and that she repeatedly complained to others on Seagal's staff but wasn't allowed to leave the home. Nguyen states she fled the house after several days and borrowed money to return to Los Angeles.
Seagal's attorney, Marty Singer, denied the allegations and said in a statement that Nguyen was fired for illegal drug use.
"The claims in her lawsuit are a complete fabrication without a scintilla of truth," Singer wrote.
Normand, at a news conference Wednesday, said he does not plan an investigation of the allegations unless the woman makes a criminal or administrative complaint against Seagal with the sheriff's office.
Her attorney, William S. Waldo, said she talked to Seagal about the alleged abuse, but didn't report it to authorities. "She reported it to Steven Seagal," Waldo said. "In Jefferson Parish, Mr. Seagal is the police."
Nguyen filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing and requested an immediate finding that she could sue Seagal. The agency granted that request and closed her case on April 1, court filings show.
Normand said he has informed A&E, the network that airs the show, and ITV Studios that it would be disruptive to continue making the show, in which cameras follow Seagal when he answers calls as a reserve deputy, with so much media interest in the Seagal case.
"I did not think it would be in our best interest to continue filming at the present time," he said.
"We are aware of Sheriff Normand's decision to halt production on 'Steven Seagal Lawman' at this time and we have no further comment," A&E spokesman Dan Silberman said.
Silberman confirmed that the show was in production when it was shut down by the sheriff and that there was no alternative plan to resume production at this time.
Although no action is planned against Seagal, Normand said he wouldn't get any special treatment.
A phone message left for Nguyen's attorney after the sheriff's news conference was not immediately returned.
Seagal's attorney also wasn't immediately available for comment.
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