Sexual Wellness Startup Founder Denies Charges of Manipulating People into Debt and Underpaid Work
Nicole Daedone, the founder of sex-centric wellness company OneTaste, has pleaded not guilty to charges of manipulating traumatized people into underpaid work, debt, and undesired sex. The charges were under a federal forced labor conspiracy case that was revealed last week. Daedone faces allegations of working with the former sales chief Rachel Cherwitz to attract people who had experienced sexual trauma. They turned these people into submissive followers who had to do their leaders’ bidding, including having sex with prospective investors or clients, taking out credit cards to pay for courses, or working without wages.
A Unique Business Model for Women’s Empowerment
Daedone’s defense counsel, Julia Gatto, described her as a “ceiling-shattering feminist entrepreneur” who created a unique business model around women’s sexuality and empowerment. OneTaste started in San Francisco in 2005 as a self-help commune that focused on women’s orgasms as a way to achieve sexual and psychological wellness and interpersonal connection. The company gained traction by garnering media attention and opening outposts across the world. It was characterized as an innovative enterprise that prioritized women’s sexual pleasure.
Charges Against OneTaste
Daedone and Cherwitz have been accused of exploiting people into doing their bidding, disregarding the fact that working against their desires created discomfort and even disgust with sexual acts. Members turned workers were often not paid the promised wages and commissions, adding to labor exploitation allegations against the company.
Impact of Allegations
OneTaste changed ownership and has said that sexual consent was fundamental to its operations and that the charges levied against the previous owners were unjustified. The company was portrayed in the media as vaunted and innovative. OneTaste’s marketing strategies, labor practices, and control over its clients-turned-workers were called into question in 2018 by Bloomberg Businessweek. OneTaste’s activities are now surrounded by controversy.
Outcomes of Indictment
Cherwitz was released on a $300,000 bond and is yet to enter a plea. Daedone was not available when the indictment was unsealed, but she has since returned to New York City, her current home. Daedone has been released on bond totaling $1 million, posted by her mother, her mother’s partner, and a OneTaste ally, who posted a sprawling property in Northern California’s Mendocino County.