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Former teen model sues modeling school over alleged sex assault

SAN DIEGO -- A woman who modeled as a teen 25 years ago in San Diego is suing a well-known modeling school, claiming it is responsible for booking photographers who sexually abused her.

“This is the perfect area for a predator to come out and prey,” Janine Kyser said.

At age 14, Kyser enrolled at Barbizon modeling school in San Diego. Like many young girls, Kyser dreamed of being famous. But that dream turned into a nightmare after her first modeling shoot when she says Barbizon sent her to the Bonita home of a photographer – alone.

“He had sex with me. His girlfriend had sex with me. It was sexual intercourse and it was all video taped,” Kyser said.

She says her mother didn’t believe her so she put it out of her mind until another girl came forward a year later and the two photographers were arrested. Still, she never said a word.

“They never even called to ask how I was and they never called and asked if I was molested, but these people had been arrested and they had sent me there,” Kyser said.

For two decades she went about her life, got married and had children. It was the safety of her own kids that triggered her, in August, to search the registered sex offenders website. That’s how she found out the two defendants skipped bail back in 1993 and were still outstanding.

She has filed suit against the two suspects, a man and a woman, along with several unnamed people associated with Barbizon, whom she holds responsible.

“They are looking to make money and they are not looking out for your child’s best interest,” Kyser said.

She hopes by going public, other victims will come forward and Barbizon will change their practices.

Kelly Friar, vice president of corporate communications at Barbizon International, released this statement:

"This is a most unfortunate situation and our hearts go out to Ms. Kyser. While this incident occurred with individuals unaffiliated with our company, our students safety is our top priority. We strive to educate and communicate with our students and parents, safety practices in the modeling and acting industry and can assure our families that their safety remains our top priority."

If you or someone you know is a victim, the law firm of Elliott Kanter would like to hear from you.