The legal brouhaha between Clara Lee and Polaris Entertainment over Clara’s alleged sexual harassment case against Polaris’s Chairman Lee has been going through the familiar legal back-and-forth he-said-she-said, sue-counter-sue dance since December (although the situation wasn’t uncovered until this past week). The whole clusterfuck centered around some texts which Clara claimed to have received from Chairman Lee:
“I felt sexually harassed by the agency President’s text messages and more.” According to the Central District Court, her complaint mentioned Chief Lee of her agency who allegedly messaged her multiple times with texts, such as, “I’m married, but I have a girlfriend,” and, “Unlike other celebrities, you’re refreshing and heart-fluttering.” He also allegedly asked her to come to where he was drinking at night.
In response, Polaris had threatened to publicly release text messages between Chairman Lee and Clara. Clara threatened to sue them if they did. Then, “coincidentally”, Dispatch received a batch of text messages between Clara and Chairman Lee which took place between May and September. While I won’t be going over them exhaustively, here’s what’s most interesting about what Dispatch found.
The initial findings don’t exactly paint Clara’s claims in the most accurate light.
First, there was Clara’s claim that she became uncomfortable when the Chairman started to text her too much. In the batch of texts that Dispatch received, Clara appears to have initiated most of the communication between the two of them.
Second, of those offending texts that Clara claims to have received, one wasn’t among the Dispatch leaks (“I’m married but I have a girlfriend”) while the others appear to have been taken out of context. As to the invitation for drinks, the alleged exchange actually went like this.
[CEO L]: I just got a report from the legal and management team, and I think I should hear your thoughts.. Dinner or wine is fine.
[Clara]: Tomorrow night, wine is good.
And as for the seemingly flirtatious “Unlike other celebrities, you’re refreshing and heart-fluttering,” that snippet was apparently a part of a broader conversation the two sides were having about Clara’s contract status within the company.
[CEO L]: When we meet tomorrow, I want to know what you really think. I’m an owner, but I can’t and shouldn’t know everything.
[CEO L]: So when it comes to the company, the president, legal, and managers take care of everything, and tell me only what is necessary.
[CEO L]: Meeting with you was refreshing and exciting unlike other celebrities, but now my heart is heavy. I hope tomorrows meeting goes well.
In all, the Dispatch report can only be seen as a disaster for Clara’s side if the texts are accurate.
Of course, the fact that these were so timely “leaked” after the legal posturing between Polaris and Clara is a little suspect. After all, Polaris had wanted to release the texts publicly but now Dispatch has done that work for them. The Dispatch report also makes some editorial decisions when it came to the texts, the largest among them being the decision to lump texts together by subject rather than show them as one cohesive timeline. For instance, the report shows texts of Clara sending the Chairman photos of her lingerie shoots and immediately follows those with the “refreshing and exciting” texts to prove that Clara was taking things out of context (and may have initiated any “flirting” between them) despite the fact that the photo texts were sent in July while the other texts were sent in September.
In between all of that, a lot happened at Polaris, including Clara finding problems with her contract (an exclusivity clause that she had with Polaris was going to get her in financial trouble with her previous agency Galaxia Communications) and the deaths of Ladies Code’s Eunbi and RiSe which affected Chairman Lee emotional state a great deal (the “my heart is heavy” bit makes a lot more sense with this in mind). However, a lot of that context is lost when one just reads the Dispatch report from start to finish since it jumps all over the place depending on which part of the story it wants to tell.
Basically, the Dispatch report starts off with a bunch of texts about Clara’s dissatisfaction with her contract then jumps back in time to show her sending photos of herself to the CEO, then jumps forward in time again to show the sexual harassment texts in their entirety and then concludes by rewinding the timeline a bit to show the stuff about how Clara didn’t attend the funerals for the Ladies Code members. Ignoring the dates, the story reads like Clara had been looking to entrap Chairman Lee for months. It’s a great narrative but it should be noted that it is one that was made with editorial guidance.
For her part, Clara’s representation is stating that about 30% of the texts that Dispatch received were doctored in some way.
Regarding this, Clara’s side stepped up to claim that 30% of the content was maliciously edited. Attorney Park Young Mohk said on January 19 in an interview with YTN PLUS, “I’ve confirmed the text message content that was revealed. There’s a portion of this that is not true. I’m not sure, but it might be around 30%.”
As others have noted, even if these texts aren’t telling the whole story, barring some sort of total fabrication, there’s no way that Clara comes out of this looking particularly good. The allegations of sexual harassment look particularly weak right now, especially if it’s true that Clara just wants to get out of her contract with Polaris.