Stan Polovets, an oil industry executive who used his wealth and connections to help establish one of the most prestigious awards in the Jewish world, has been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman he took out on a date.
The woman, identified only as Jane Doe 1, made the allegations in a civil lawsuit filed against Polovets, the CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, in Manhattan last week. She is demanding financial compensation whose amount would be determined in court.
The Genesis Prize annually recognizes outstanding achievement by Jewish individuals through a ceremony and a $1 million grant that’s typically distributed to charity. The prominence of the award’s winners — a list that includes Michael Bloomberg, Natalie Portman, and Natan Sharansky — has elevated the prize’s profile and led people to call it the “Jewish Nobel Prize.”
Speaking through his lawyer, Polovets has denied the allegations and accused the woman of targeting him for his wealth.
“He completely and unequivocally denies the allegations and looks forward to clearing his name in a courtroom at the appropriate time,” said attorney Mark Bederow. “We believe that this is nothing more than an attempt to extract money from Mr. Polovets.”
Polovets is separated from his wife, Erina Polovets, who filed for divorce in January 2021; the court proceedings are ongoing.
The foundation, which is registered in Israel and maintains an office in New York, released a statement saying that it stands behind Polovets.
“The foundation believes that false accusations of sexual assault injure not only the person falsely accused, but also survivors of sexual assault,” the statement says. “The important philanthropic work of The Genesis Prize Foundation will continue without disruption.”
According to the lawsuit, Polovets met the woman, a single mother of a young child, through a matchmaker in the summer of 2021. On their second date, in December 2021, the two went to see play and afterward had a drink at the Skylark, a luxury cocktail lounge in midtown Manhattan.
It was at the Skylark that Polovets is alleged to have slipped a drug into her drink. The lawsuit says that she was “suddenly disoriented and began to lose control of her motor functions” and was “overwhelmed by distress, confusion, and fear.” A blood test later conducted by a private lab showed traces of benzodiazepines, a class of drugs commonly known as roofies or the date rape drug, according to the lawsuit.
The woman claims that Polovets took advantage of her diminished state and prevented her from catching a ride home. He allegedly took her to his home and sexually assaulted her as she came in and out of consciousness.
According to another allegation in the lawsuit, the Skylark intentionally destroyed security footage that was later sought by law enforcement officers. The lawsuit refers to an ongoing criminal investigation into her alleged assault.
Polovets’ attorney said his client has fully cooperated with the New York Police Department and that he hasn’t heard from police since November 2022. No criminal charges have been filed against Polovets.
The Skylark said it cannot yet respond to the allegation against it.
“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 lounge’s attorney said. “However, until we know all the facts, we are not in a position to make any statement with regard to the allegations other than to say we will take this matter seriously and are investigating.”
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.