Anna Sorokin’s former best friend, Rachel DeLoache Williams, filed a defamation lawsuit with Netflix on Monday over her portrayal in the dramatized series based on the con artist’s infamous scams.
“Inventing Anna” follows Sorokin, who has posed as a German heiress with a fortune of $60 million, as she infiltrates New York society and scams banks, businesses and her friends to finance her lavish lifestyle. designer clothing and luxury vacations.
The series falsely portrays Williams, 34, then a Vanity Fair photo editor, as a “greedy, snobbish, disloyal, dishonest, cowardly, manipulative and opportunistic person,” attorney Alexander Rufus-Isaacs wrote in the complaint.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in Delaware, seeks unspecified damages for false light invasion of privacy and defamation.
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The complaint suggests Netflix chose to portray Williams’ character as a “vile and despicable person” because it sold the rights to his story to rival network HBO.
The producers changed the identification details of other characters in the Netflix series, but not of Williams, whose real name, neighborhood, employer and alma mater were used.
The actress chosen to play her, Katie Lowes, even looks like her, the suit alleges.
This Netflix decision caused “catastrophic damage to Williams’ reputation” and exposed her to a “torrent of online abuse, negative in-person interactions, and pejorative characterizations on podcasts,” Rufus-Isaacs wrote.
Williams profited handsomely from her ill-fated friendship with Sorokin, earning a $300,000 advance from Simon & Schuster for her book “My Friend Anna: the True Story of a Fake Heiress” and another $35,000 from HBO.
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Sorokin was convicted in 2019 of grand theft and other charges of stealing $200,000 from businesses and fraudulently trying to obtain a $22 million loan to launch an art club in Manhattan.
But the jury acquitted her of the charge related to Williams’ claim that the would-be socialite invited her on an all-expenses-paid trip to Morocco and then pinned the $62,000 bill on her.
Williams broke down sobbing during her testimony, telling jurors that crushing credit card debt left her unable to pay her bills or rent.
Before the getaway to Morocco, Williams said that she and Sorokin hung out almost every day, with her mystery friend treating her to lavish meals at the city’s best restaurants, spa treatments and personal training sessions.
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Sorokin was sentenced to between four and 12 years in prison, but was released early for good behavior. He is currently in ICE custody fighting an order of deportation to Germany for overstaying his US visa.
Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.