Rachel DeLoache Williams, a former Vanity Fair photo editor who wrote a viral article about fake German heiress Anna Delvey (a.k.a. Anna Sorokin), testified on Wednesday and Thursday about how Sorokin allegedly scammed her out of $62,000 following a trip the two took to Morocco.
During cross-examination on Thursday, Williams became highly emotional recounting the fallout from her relationship with Delvey. “This is the most traumatic thing I have ever been through,” she said through tears. “I wish I had never met Anna. If I could have gone back in time to not be where I am today, I would. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.”
On Wednesday, Williams described to prosecutors how she met Delvey at a nightclub in February 2016 and became friendly with her, hanging out with her at her hotel room at 11 Howard Street. In May 2017, Williams accompanied Delvey on a trip to Morocco, where they stayed at La Mamounia, a high-end resort in Marrakech that cost $7,000 a night. Williams testified that she agreed to go on the trip because she was under the impression that Delvey would foot the bill. “The place she decided to go was one of the most expensive places in the world, and at that point I understood she would be paying for the trip,” she said.
A few days into the trip, as Williams recounted in her Vanity Fair article, hotel staff arrived at Delvey’s hotel room demanding payment. Delvey claimed there was an issue with her credit card, and asked Williams to foot the $62,000 bill so she could reimburse her later. Williams agreed, splitting the payments between her personal credit card and the credit card for Condé Nast, her employer.
For months, Williams begged Delvey to pay her back, telling her she was unable to pay her rent or pay her bills. “Help me here! I can’t make my rent!!!!!!!! I am so FREAKED out!!!!!!!!!” Williams texted Sorokin, according to her testimony. Sorokin told her repeatedly that she was unable to pay her currently because of issues. A desperate Williams eventually went to a police station in Chinatown, where a lieutenant reportedly told her, “With your face, you could set up a GoFundMe page to get your money back,” she testified during cross-examination on Thursday. Williams said Delvey’s deception left her in dire financial straits, and she was forced to borrow money from friends and family members.
Last year, Williams published an account of her relationship with Delvey for her then-employer, Vanity Fair, for which she was paid a little more than $1,200. (Williams lost her job during company layoffs in February 2019.) During cross-examination on Thursday, defense attorney Todd Spodek asked Williams why she did not specify in her piece that she had arranged a lunch with Delvey in Los Angeles while she was at a Vanity Fair summit so Delvey could be arrested. “I didn’t feel the amount of space the article provided was enough space to tell the whole story,” she said, referring to the process of writing the piece as “cathartic.”
After the Vanity Fair story went viral, Williams testified that was approached by two agents, one of whom negotiated a contract for $35,000 for the rights to her story for adaptation for HBO; another procured a book deal for her at Simon and Schuster for approximately $300,000. During cross-examination, Spodek attempted to portray Williams as an opportunist who tried to exploit her relationship with Delvey for money, a characterization Williams staunchly refuted. “I didn’t want the trial or my testimony to be misconstrued as a ploy for my own benefit, because it is not,” she said, adding “This is not about entertainment. It is about law and order and a crime…this is about a trauma. This is about something I went through.”
Delvey is being charged with grand larceny, attempted grand larceny, and theft of services. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, and will likely be deported back to Germany either way, due to her visa having expired.