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David Adjaye portrait

David Adjaye accused of sexual misconduct by three women

British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by three former employees, with one making a criminal complaint against him.

The allegations, which have been detailed in an investigation by British newspaper the Financial Times (FT), come from three women who worked for Adjaye in 2018 and 2019.

According to the women, whose names were changed by the FT, dealing with Adjaye has caused them serious mental distress and financial difficulties and disrupted their careers.

Adjaye "strongly denies making any sexual advances"

Two of the women, who the FT calls Gene and Maya, met Adjaye in September 2018 in Accra, where they had moved to set up the Ghana office for Adjaye's studio, Adjaye Associates.

They allege that after a dinner, at which they had hoped to speak to Adjaye about problems in connection with the Accra office, they went to Adjaye's corporate apartment where he sexually harassed and assaulted them.

The incident was denied by Adjaye's lawyer, who told the FT that while the dinner took place and the three went to Adjaye's apartment after it for a drink, he "strongly denies making any sexual advances towards" them and "categorically denies forcing [Maya] to enter his bedroom and sexually assaulting her".

The lawyer also denied allegations by Maya that Adjaye asked to meet her the day after the alleged incident and took out money to give to her.

Maya, who decided to stay at the company, also alleges another incident of sexual misconduct took place in mid-2019 in an airport bathroom. Adjaye has denied that he engaged "in sexual activity with her during this encounter".

Maya was reportedly dismissed without notice in January 2020 and made a criminal complaint against Adjaye to the police in South Africa, where the alleged bathroom incident had taken place.

Gene was also reportedly dismissed from her job at Adjaye Associates and reached a financial settlement of $40,000 with the studio.

Third woman alleges "controlling and emotionally abusive sexual encounters"

The third woman, whom FT calls Dunia, met Adjaye in 2019 and alleges that he sexually harassed her the same year.

According to Dunia, she began working for him informally after the alleged incident and said she "endured a series of controlling and emotionally abusive sexual encounters with him".

She stopped working for Adjaye in 2020 and sent the studio a legal letter in 2022 that accused him of sexual misconduct. Dunia, Gene and Maya are now represented by "an organisation that specialises in human rights and whistleblowing", the FT said.

Adjaye's lawyer claimed that each of the women had "their own grievances" against the architect.

In a response to the FT, Adjaye said: "I absolutely reject any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing. These allegations are untrue, distressing for me and my family and run counter to everything I stand for."

"I am ashamed to say that I entered into relationships which though entirely consensual, blurred the boundaries between my professional and personal lives," he added.

"I am deeply sorry. To restore trust and accountability, I will be immediately seeking professional help in order to learn from these mistakes to ensure that they never happen again."

Former employee claims Ghana office working hours were "toxic"

As well as the allegations of sexual misconduct, the FT investigation also found that former Adjaye employees felt the workplace in both London and Accra was "disorganised and frantic", according to 13 people the newspaper spoke to.

One woman said the Accra office had "toxic" working hours, while another claimed Adjaye told her to flirt with clients if needed to get something.

According to the FT, the three women accusing Adjaye of sexual misconduct came forward "to prevent other women from encountering similar abuse and to make public the architect's private behaviour".

The newspaper said it had corroborated their accounts by looking at contemporaneous emails, text messages and documents and interviewing colleagues, friends and family members whom they confided in.

Adjaye is one of the most prominent architects currently working in Britain and was awarded the prestigious RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2021 at a ceremony that featured a speech from former US president Barack Obama.

He received a knighthood for his services to architecture in 2017 and became the fifth architect to be appointed to Britain's Order of Merit.

Dezeen has reached out to Adjaye Associates for comment.