Director/producer Brett Ratner is suing a Hawaii woman for libel over a Facebook post in which she claims he raped her more than a decade ago, along with 10 other unnamed individuals he believes acted in conjunction with her.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court and obtained by USA TODAY, stems from an Oct. 20 Facebook post by Melanie Kohler in which she says Ratner "was a rapist at least one night in Hollywood about 12 years ago" and that he "preyed on me as a drunk girl (and) forced himself on me."
It also says Ratner is seeking special, general and punitive damages in excess of $75,000 as compensation for the "emotional distress, worry, anger and anxiety" he has suffered as a result.
Little is known about Kohler, who does not have any presence on IMDB.com, or how she met Ratner.
On Thursday, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual-harassment lawsuit brought down network boss Roger Ailes, called out Ratner's response on Twitter.
"Intimidate the victim, threaten her with legal action, smear her reputation," she wrote. "These are bully tactics."
Ratner's lawsuit came the same day Ratner was accused of sexual harassment or misconduct by six women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge, in a Los Angeles Times story.
Subsequently, Warner Bros, the studio where Ratner held a first-look deal, announced it was investigating the allegations against him and Playboy Enterprises shelved a planned biopic about late founder Hugh Hefner that Ratner was due to produce and direct.
Late Wednesday, Ratner responded to the allegations with a statement to USA TODAY issued by his lawyer, Marty Singer.
"In light of the allegations being made, I am choosing to personally step away from all Warner Bros.-related activities," Ratner said in the statement. "I don’t want to have any possible negative impact to the studio until these personal issues are resolved."
Jack Horner, a spokesman for Warner Bros., the studio where Ratner's company Ratpac Entertainment, has a financing deal and rents office space, told Variety, “We are aware of the allegations in the L.A. Times and are reviewing the situation."
In a statement, Playboy spokesman John Vlautin told USA TODAY, “We are deeply troubled to learn about the accusations against Brett Ratner. We find this kind of behavior completely unacceptable. We are putting all further development of our projects with RatPac Entertainment on hold until we are able to review the situation further.”
Also on Wednesday, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins reacted to the Ratner scandal in a tweet. Days after she honored him at the Jewish National Fund, she wrote that she was "extremely distressed" about the "terrible allegations" made about Ratner.
"I have never witnessed nor been aware of anything that's been described. To be very clear, I am definitely not okay with this kind of behavior. Sexual harassment and assault are NEVER okay and I stand with and defend all of the men and women who are revealing these horrific encounters all over the industry and this world."
Ratner, 48, is known for directing the Rush Hour franchise as well as 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand and 2011's Tower Heist. He also produced The Revenant (2015), for which Leonardo DiCaprio won an Academy Award, in addition to Horrible Bosses and the TV series Prison Break.
The story casts Ratner's "bad-boy image" in a different light, alleging that Ratner forced women to engage in sex acts against their will and made unwanted advances on others.
“I've made specific, conscientious choices not to work with Brett Ratner,” Munn says, with the story describing how Ratner masturbated in front of the then-aspiring actress on the set of his 2004 movie After the Sunset, then later bragged to her about ejaculating on magazine covers featuring her photo.
“It feels as if I keep going up against the same bully at school who just won't quit,” she continues. “You just hope that enough people believe the truth and for enough time to pass so that you can't be connected to him anymore.”
Other allegations include The Whole Nine Yards actress Natasha Henstridge's account of Ratner forcing her to perform oral sex, and four people who were involved in the production of Ratner’s Rush Hour 2 in 2001, who recalled how the director chased young women and established a predatory atmosphere on set.
Munn previously alluded to Ratner's history of misconduct in her 2010 collection of essays, Suck It, Wonder Woman!: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek, with the director responding by claiming he "banged" her and accusing her of lying.
Upon hearing the news, Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento tweeted, Weinstein himself crowned you king of the pigs, @BrettRatner. Looking forward to hear (sic) your lame excuses/apologies for your hideous crimes."
Ratner's attorney Martin Singer denied the allegations to the Times, saying, “I have represented Mr. Ratner for two decades, and no woman has ever made a claim against him for sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. Furthermore, no woman has ever requested or received any financial settlement from my client.”
Contributing: Maria Puente