On Friday, lawyers for KISS member Gene Simmons filed a complaint seeking a declaration that Simmons did not assault a woman during a visit to ESPN Studios last year, as she has claimed. Simmons argues that it is "implausible if not impossible" that he engaged in the "humping" and "grinding" the woman alleges took place, because he was wearing his KISS costume at the time and his groin was therefore heavily armored.
According to the complaint, Simmons and another KISS member, Eric Singer, made a brief appearance on ESPN's "SportsCenter" on November 24, 2009. This was just before a KISS concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and the ESPN studios are right next door. According to Simmons, the visit was uneventful (to the extent you can describe any appearance by KISS members in full costume as "uneventful").
But two months later, Simmons says, he got a letter from an attorney claiming to represent ESPN make-up artist Victoria Jackson. In the letter, Jackson's lawyer said that his client claimed to have "encountered" Simmons in a hallway before the SportsCenter appearance, whereupon Simmons allegedly "hugged," "humped" and "grinded" her, causing emotional distress. In a later email, the lawyer threatened to sue Simmons unless he paid Jackson $185,000 to settle the matter by May 14, 2010. Simmons clearly decided to strike first by filing his own lawsuit that day.
The complaint, which is just four pages long, denies Jackson's allegations and adds one other notable comment. Simmons' lawyers (Manatt, Phelps & Phillips) state that the allegations are not only false but facially implausible because Simmons was wearing his costume at the time:
[T]he alleged encounter which Jackson alleges, and which forms the basis of her claims against Plaintiff — "'humping" and "grinding" during a fleeting hug — is demonstrably untrue and belied by Plaintiff's costume, the equivalent of a suit of armor, which makes the conduct alleged by Jackson implausible if not impossible. Simmons' costume . . . contains a "cod" piece [sic] which sits over the groin area.
The complaint then includes a picture of Simmons' costume. This presumably displays the codpiece prominently, although it is difficult to tell because of the poor quality of the scan (this is the only copy of the complaint I could find). It is possible to make out, in the lower right, what appears to be a young woman gazing up at Simmons. She does not appear to be suffering any codpiece-induced emotional distress, but like I said, it's not a very good picture.
The complaint doesn't explain why the armored codpiece necessarily means that Jackson's claim can't be true. Just because your groin is armored doesn't mean you couldn't technically hump and grind with it, especially if you have decades of experience like Gene Simmons does. It does mean you are very unlikely to have done so for the purpose of, let's say, gratification, as Jackson appears to be suggesting. And that seems to make a big difference in interpreting what might have happened and the extent of distress Jackson could reasonably claim to have suffered. That's where the armored-codpiece defense seems to come into play, although I don't know what kind of precedent there might be for this argument.