A CELEBRITY photographer with clients including Billie Piper and Sadie Frost has been jailed for sexually assaulting models at his Haringey studio.
Lee Cropper abused his position of power as a sought-after snapper to make women touch his genitals and rub his crotch during one-to-one photoshoots.
Wood Green Crown Court heard yesterday how the 31-year-old, during one assault, dropped his trousers and said “I'm a pervert, is that alright with you?”.
He persuaded the model to take her clothes off for a photoshoot and encouraged her to touch him sexually with the implied promise of giving her work.
In another assault, Cropper told the model to “look at him as her boyfriend”, prosecutor Sandy Canavan told the court, before sexually arousing himself in front of her.
When she tried to flee his Hermitage Road studio, where he also lived, he told her he had been a “stupid boy”, and begged her not to report the incident to her agency.
Ms Canavan said: “If you upset a photographer in the modelling world, being what it is, it can become difficult to be booked again by entire agencies or other photographers.
“The defendant knew exactly what his position was, he was a successful photographer, he was somebody who had a very successful career and had photographed a large number of famous models, individuals and the like.”
She said Cropper's victims had left the scene of the attacks “frightened” and “terrified”, but added that some blamed themselves for what had happened.
Louise Sweet, representing Cropper, suggested his rise to prominence as a photographer to the stars since 2008 had put him under pressure and he struggled to adapt.
She said: “Perhaps he felt a bit insecure in that world, who knows. He began to drink because he couldn't cope with the pressure of the job.”
Cropper rose in stature after posting his pictures on website MySpace. He went on to work for magazines including Vogue and Mirage, and has an extensive portfolio of celebrities who posed for him.
He admitted carrying out three sexual attacks, one in September last year, and two on the same day in May this year. He had already been convicted of another sexual assault on a model in January this year, for which he was given a supervision order.
Judge Sean Lyons quashed the order, and jailed Cropper for a total of 33 months for the four assaults.
In his sentencing remarks, he said: “These girls trust they will be dealt with properly and professionally by a proper and professional person. They were deeply mistreated here and their trust was abused.
“Fear was created, I've read through the evidence and listened to what I've heard described. 'It was scary, it was terrifying, I was shaking'. It is a serious part of these offences.”
Ms Sweet said Cropper, who will be on the sex offenders register indefinitely and unable to photographer someone without another adult present, will look for an alternative career when he is released, and added: “His career as a photographer of any sort is over, there is no way he can go back to it.”