MANHATTAN – An Upper East Side strip club is accused of sex-trafficking young women and being a front for prostitution in a bombshell lawsuit– seeking class action status– brought by two former performers at Sapphire New York, located at 333 East 60th Street, between First and Second Avenues.
The women, whom Upper East Site is not naming because they describe themselves as being victims of sex trafficking, say that the club’s hosts groomed young women into prostituting themselves for customers— and if they didn’t, retaliated against them with everything from physical and mental abuse to making it impossible for them to earn money the legal way.
“Fueled by greed and the unseemly promise of making ‘every man’s fantasies come true,’ Sapphire created and sustained a toxic work environment, where [club] dancers were coerced into servicing patrons, with any sexual act a customer desired, for a price,” the suit filed by attorney Jon Norinsberg on Monday alleges.
“And because greed inevitably leads to more deplorable behavior, the prostitution ring Defendants created was a catalyst for a vast array of other unlawful acts committed by Defendants,” the lawsuit continues.
One of the plaintiffs, who was 19 years old when she started working at Sapphire in the summer of 2021 to help pay for college, says she was groomed by a club host— which the lawsuit describes as modern-day pimps— who took her outside the club to find new customers on several occasions, giving the underage woman alcohol until she would lose consciousness and black out.
“Some Hosts would even regularly supply customers with cocaine and condoms,” the lawsuit against Sapphire claims, “to ensure the client experienced no roadblocks to getting anything they wanted.”
After initially refusing to participate in the prostitution ring, the lawsuit claims a Sapphire host made it clear to the first plaintiff that income was contingent on performing illegal sex acts and if she didn’t, they’d make sure she didn’t make any money.
The young woman gave in, according to the filing, leaving her ashamed and humiliated— eventually resigning from the club and checking herself herself into an in-patient mental health facility “as a result of the emotional and physical trauma.”
A second woman who worked at Sapphire from 2015 to 2019 details a similar experience working at the club.
She says she was earningtwo thousand dollars a night as a dancer, however, after refusing to perform sex acts on customers, the suit claims hosts steered customers away from her in favor of performers who were willing to participate in prostitution.
That second woman named in the court documents– who we are also not naming– says she was in a private room as a customer was engaging in a threesome with two dancers, and wanted one of the dancers to perform oral sex on the other woman.
The dancer tried to simulate oral sex instead, the suit claims, then “the customer became upset and violently forced her to perform the act.”
And when that dancer complained about the sexual and physical assault, she was comforted by a supervisor but no action was taken by Sapphire management, the lawsuit contends.
The women’s lawsuit calls for $10 million in compensatory damages from the strip club for severe mental anguish and emotional distress, humiliation and depression, as well as $15 million in punitive damages.
Sapphire management could not immediately be reached for comment.