Billionaire boss goes head to head with sexual harassment accuser
August 23, 2019
LOS ANGELES—If the courtroom exchange between Alki David and Elizabeth Taylor on Thursday morning was any indication of their previous workplace relationship, then the jury certainly got a sense of what it might have been like to work at FilmOn.TV Networks.
David, 51—who is accused by Taylor, 32, of sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination—seemed almost eager to play the role of "out-of-control boss," as Taylor's lead attorney Lisa Bloom has labeled him.
In a series of disjointed questions—that both Superior Court Judge Christopher K. Lui and Bloom associate Arick Fudali frequently interrupted on the grounds that they improperly constituted testimony—David cross-examined Taylor, who once worked as a sales executive at his company.
Among David’s topics: whether Taylor had once asked David to wrestle him in his office and whether Taylor had cried when David—as he admits—tied her to a chair with computer wire.
What’s unclear, however, is how much of David's courtroom behavior is simply his natural personality, and how much of it is an attempt to demonstrate a boundary-pusing workplace culture—which lead defense attorney Ellyn Garofalo argues his employees accepted.
In addition to his work as a producer, director, and entrepreneur, David has a slew of acting credits to his name.
For her part, Taylor seems strongest and most self-assured when responding to David’s provocations. By contrast, when questioned by Garofalo, she often requires clarification or asks for questions to be restated.
Like David, she’s had her own history of performance experience, having worked as an “entertainment wrestler” and reality TV contestant.
To the wrestling question, Taylor responded with a firm, “No.” To the crying question, Taylor recounted that, rather than cry, she had actually screamed for help. “I was scared and terrified, just as I am now,” she said.
“I was your favorite boss ever,” David said, incredulous. “Didn’t you tell people you loved me?”
At this, Taylor braced herself, stared David down and said, “Mr. David, I have never loved you.”
Later, David became exasperated and irate when Taylor refused to tell him where she lives, which he claimed is relevant to her financial stability. Taylor balked at the question.
“C’mon, Elizabeth!” he said, gripping his head. “Don’t be ridiculous!”
Then, in a moment that transformed the atmosphere from silly to potentially dangerous, David snarled sarcastically, “I’ll come and find you somewhere!”
“Enough theatrics,” warned Judge Lui.
“THIS is theatics!” David erupted, apparently referring to his opinion of the trial itself.
Taylor expressed fear from the stand, saying, “I’m getting kinda scared of him.”
As a second bailiff was called in, David continued his tirade at all of the lawyers—even his own. “This is such a sordid little game that you horrible little people do!”
He then lit into Bloom lawyer Alan Goldstein, calling him a “fucking idiot,” and provoking a torrent of objections, motions, and cross-talk from everyone.
Lui managed to sort through the chaos, called for a break, and excused the jury.
Bloom escorted Taylor out, making a not-so-subtle show of her appreciation of the added security.
After the break, David picked up right where he had left off, hurling at Taylor even sharper barbs disguised as questions.
“How is your weight gain correlated to me? Do you expect a payday?”
The usual objections and legal wrangling ensued.
Both legal teams will likely be assessing the fallout from these exchanges, capitalizing on what might bolster their cases—and doing damage control in the areas that don’t. They know that regardless of what the judge might order stricken from the record, jurors will have a difficult time “unseeing” what has played out before their eyes.