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Stan Polovets, Genesis Prize chief, accused of sexual assault in lawsuit

An anonymous woman said the businessman and philanthropist drugged and assaulted her after a date in 2021

Stan Polovets, chief executive of the Genesis Prize, was accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit filed Wednesday. An anonymous woman alleged that during a date Polovets drugged her, took her to his Manhattan apartment and assaulted her while she was not fully conscious.

“Mr. Polovets unequivocally and categorically denies the allegations in the complaint,” Mark Bederow, his attorney, said in an interview Friday. 

Polovets is the co-founder of the Genesis Prize, an annual $1 million prize awarded to Jews who have achieved significant success in various fields. It was created in 2012.

The Genesis Prize Foundation, replying to a request for comment, said that Polovets  “looks forward to clearing his name.” It added: “The Foundation believes that false accusations of sexual assault injure not only the person falsely accused, but also survivors of sexual assault.”

The woman is seeking an unspecified amount of money from Polovets and the Skylark Lounge, the cocktail bar where the woman said she was drugged and which the lawsuit claims deleted video of the incident.

“The Skylark was just made aware of the complaint and we are in the process of investigating the claims. As anyone would, we have great empathy for the victim,” the bar’s attorney said.

Attorneys representing the woman accusing Polovets, who is identified only as Jane Doe in court documents, did not respond to a request for comment.

Woman claims drugged and assaulted

In the lawsuit, the woman states that she met Polovets, an oil industry executive and philanthropist, through a matchmaker and met in the summer of 2021. During a second date in December, the woman claims that Polovets invited her to the Skylark Lounge after the two watched a play together.

The woman said that after taking a sip of her second drink she “felt suddenly disoriented and began to lose control of her motor functions.” The lawsuit states that Polovets then brought her back to his apartment despite the woman saying “she wanted to go home and needed to be with her daughter.”

It claims that he had stopped her from calling an Uber, took her into his bedroom, removed some of her clothes and groped and kissed her while she “was still suffering the effects of being drugged.”

The woman took a drug test the following day that confirmed she had ingested benzodiazepines, according to the lawsuit. Excessive doses are associated with confusion, memory loss and unsteadiness. 

The lawsuit includes a message that the woman said Polovets sent her two days after the incident in which he states that she “had too much to drink on an empty stomach,” and he did not want her to take an Uber because he feared that the driver might assault her.

“You left as soon as you were able to, but not before you fell down on the way to the bathroom because you could not walk,” Polovets said, according to the lawsuit. “If you don’t want to see me again, that’s fine. But maybe you can be more mature about it rather than block [me] or leave without saying goodbye.”

Polovets is separated from his wife, Erina Polovets, who filed for divorce in January 2021; the court proceedings are ongoing.

Polovets denial

Bederow, Polovets’ attorney, said that before filing the lawsuit the woman’s attorneys sought a monetary settlement from Polovets before asking the police to investigate the incident. Bederow said the police decided not to take action.

“The NYPD declined to take action and after that the lawsuit follows demanding money again,” Bederow said. “So, it is what it is in terms of what they’re doing here and he looks forward to clearing his name and is fully confident he’ll be exonerated.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court, was first publicized by ZA’AKAH, an advocacy group that fights sexual assault in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Asher Lovy, the group’s director, said the Genesis Prize blocked the organization on social media after it posted about the lawsuit.

A Russia-born American businessman, Polovets is a veteran deal maker in the oil and gas industry. In 2007, he teamed up with Russian billionaire oligarchs Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan to found the Genesis Philanthropy Group, whose original philanthropic focus was aiding the Jews of the former Soviet Union. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the three oligarchs were placed under Western sanctions and subsequently resigned from its board. Polovets led GPG until 2014 and helped spin off the Genesis Prize as an independent entity with a $100 million endowment in 2012.

In May, the Genesis Prize announced it would bestow a special recognition marking its 10th anniversary on Barbra Streisand. A ceremony for the singer and actress — who pledged to direct her $1 million prize to groups aimed at protecting the environment, promoting women’s health, combating disinformation in the media and aiding the people of Ukraine — is slated to take place next month in Los Angeles.

Update, 9/20/2023, 9:47 a.m.: This article was updated to include additional background information from JTA and a response from the Skylark Lounge.


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