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Actress accuses R.I. luxury resort owner of sexual harassment

An attorney for Paul Mihailides, owner of the Preserve Sporting Club and Residences in Richmond, said the resort plans to file a countersuit against Alison McDaniel

.Preserve Sporting Club

RICHMOND, R.I. — The owner of a luxurious, private resort has been accused by actress and model Alison McDaniel of “repeatedly” sexually harassing her and other female employees.

In a 29-page civil lawsuit filed this week in US District Court in Providence, McDaniel claims that while she worked as a consultant for The Preserve Sporting Club and Residences in the rural community of Richmond, owner Paul Mihailides had requested sexual favors, touched her inappropriately, ogled with “suggestive overtones,” and subjected her to verbal and physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Mihailides allegedly attempted to kiss McDaniel on the mouth “multiple times” and told guests that McDaniel was his “mistress,” “future ex-wife,” and “girlfriend,” her attorney Mark Gagliardi wrote in the lawsuit.


Nicole Benjamin, an attorney for The Preserve, strongly refuted McDaniel’s claims in a statement emailed to the Globe on Thursday night, and said the resort plans to file a countersuit against McDaniel.

“Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable at any level and The Preserve holds all who work there in any capacity to a high standard,” said Benjamin. “It is important to keep in mind a lawsuit is not made of facts, but rather allegations that must be proven.”

Mihailides is “confident that a jury will ultimately reject the allegations,” said Benjamin, who said The Preserve also had independent investigators review McDaniel’s conduct and advised the resort to “refer those claims to law enforcement.”

McDaniel, who has worked as an actress and model since at least 2005, appeared in “Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” and has made recurring appearances in the soap opera, “Guiding Light.” She has also appeared in brief roles in “Gossip Girl,” “J. Edgar Hoover,” “All My Children,” and “Love Monkey,” among other titles. Now 42, McDaniel has appeared as a model for “Good Morning America,” “TODAY Show,” “The Kris Jenner Show,” and “Wendy Williams Show.”


McDaniel, who lives in New York City, is seeking $3.3 million in damages and unpaid wages. Benjamin denied that the resort still owed McDaniel, and told the Globe that McDaniel was “paid for projects invoiced to The Preserve before The Preserve ultimately terminated its consulting relationship with the Alison McDaniel Agency.

Alison McDaniel attended Luisa Diaz Foundation's ninth Annual MAG Gala at The Plaza on May 18, 2023, in New York City. Mark Sagliocco

McDaniel’s consulting agency was hired as a subcontractor by The Preserve in December 2019 to act as the resort’s spokesperson, act in commercials, create and appear in videos for social media, work as an editor for the company’s magazine, and complete other communication and marketing-related tasks. She was paid a monthly salary of $6,000, according to court documents, and she stopped working at the resort in February 2022.

McDaniel’s agency, a marketing firm she founded in 2015, has helped Friends of the NRA, local police departments, Boy Scouts of America, the Ronald McDonald House, and other organizations “reach their fundraising goals” by deploying models at charity events.

Her suit claims Mihailides repeatedly made unwanted comments over text messages, to other people, and in person. He would often touch her in ways that she described as “uncomfortable,” such as rubbing her ears, touching her neck, and attempting to hug her or hold her hand, the suit alleges. (The lawsuit was first reported by GoLocalProv).

During one meeting in October 2021, Gagliardi wrote in court documents that Mihailides allegedly told McDaniel that he was a “good lover,” and said if she “wasn’t such a prude, [her] life could get a lot better,” and telling her again, “You give a little, you get a lot.”


According to the suit, McDaniel texted Mihailides in July 2021 to thank him for something and Mihailides responded: “Do kisses come after that?”

This is not the first time McDaniel’s accusations of Mihailides have been aired in public.

On March 8, 2022, McDaniel allegedly posted on her Instagram account that The Preserve had a “sexually-harrassing environment created by Mihailides,” the suit said. As of Thursday, the post was no longer visible on McDaniel’s account. In October 2022, McDaniel filed a charge of discrimination with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

But the commission dismissed her charges, Benjamin said. The Preserve had filed claims against McDaniel with the commission for “theft of company property, computer crimes and interference with company relationships, among other things.”

“It was not until Ms. McDaniel refused to return The Preserve’s property that Ms. McDaniel made any allegation of harassment or discrimination,” Benjamin wrote on Thursday.

The Gatehouse at The Preserve Club and Residences in Richmond, R.I.The Preserve Club and Residences

Benjamin declined to provide specific details regarding the assets that The Preserve alleges McDaniel stole “given that this is in litigation.”

Mihailides, an entrepreneur, conservationist, and car collector, first built the property’s golf course and clubhouse in the 1990s before selling to Foxwoods Resort Casino. He bought the property back in 2013, along with 19 parcels of surrounding land. The Preserve is now a nearly 4,000-acre private club with various outdoor activities, including clay shooting, a golf course, a restaurant from celebrity chef David Burke, hobbit houses, a spa, tennis courts, a helipad, acres of protected land, and more.


A membership can cost around $500,000; overnight accommodations begin around $630. The Preserve has been recognized with numerous preservation and hospitality awards.

In 2021, after McDaniel was unable to attend a company holiday celebration due to illness, Mihailides allegedly told her, “I’m glad you didn’t die from your asthma attack. I would still have sex with you as long as your body wasn’t cold yet,” the suit said. McDaniel claims Mihailides called her a “prude” and said he was angry with her because she would not kiss him or tell him that she loved him.

The suit also claims that in August 2021, Mihailides spoke about McDaniel’s body in a sexual manner in front of Dant Hirsch, the president and managing director of the Ocean House in Westerly, and Robert Button, a self-employed videographer. Mihailides described to the two men, the suit claims, what he wanted to do with McDaniel. Button allegedly asked McDaniel if Mihailides was always “creepy” to her, and asked how she was able to put up with it.

An aerial shot of The Preserve Club and Residences in Richmond, R.I.The Preserve Club and Residences

McDaniel alleges that Mihailides also insinuated to The Preserve’s employees that he was having sex with her. At the same time, Mihailides would allegedly tell her that he was having “multiple, extra-marital affairs.” She found these comments to be “unwelcome and offensive,” her lawyer said. Mihailides also allegedly tried confiding in McDaniel about a fight he had with his unnamed mistress, but she told him she felt uncomfortable as she “did not believe in adultery” and that the conversation was “inappropriate,” the suit said.


The suit also named female employees who McDaniel claimed were uncomfortable with the way Mihailides allegedly tickled them, made “unwelcome, offensive, sexual comments,” and continued inappropriate behavior even after employees complained about it to others.

The alleged harassment, McDaniel claims in her suit, happened so often that Mihailides’ wife would comment about it. On one occasion, the suit said, his wife asked McDaniel in front of guests at The Preserve, “Have you ever had to deal with sexual harassment at work besides from my husband?”

In December 2021, after months of asking for money she was allegedly owed by The Preserve, Mihailides called her a “liar.” Later, the suit said, Mihailides told McDaniel, “If you just give me what I want, this would be a lot easier.” She claims that when he refused to pay the wages she was owed, he would “falsely claim it was due to the COVID pandemic.”

“When McDaniel refused Mihailides’ sexual advances, he retaliated against her by being verbally abusive to her,” Gagliardi wrote in court documents on McDaniel’s behalf. “Thereby creating a hostile work environment.”

In 2009, McDaniel also filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court alleging sexual harassment against the Southern Hospitality restaurant and its owners, which includes pop star and actor Justin Timberlake. McDaniel was the restaurant’s former manager, where she claimed she was harassed and fired “because of her gender.” Timberlake’s partners, she claimed at the time, watched pornography while in a locked room with her. It’s unclear what became of the case. The restaurant closed in 2019.

This story has been updated with an additional comment from Paul Mihailides’ attorney, Nicole Benjamin, and to note the lawsuit was first reported by GoLocalProv.

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.