Current, former eXp agents file ‘sex trafficking’ lawsuit against brokerage

The complaint, filed in California, alleges that eXp turned a blind eye to two of its agents drugging and sexually assaulting women at recruiting events

For the past few years, antitrust lawsuits centered around the agent commission structure have been the primary focus of litigation in the real estate space, but a suit filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against eXp World Holdings and eXp Realty is of a very different nature.

The complaint, filed by Fabiola Acevedo, three Jane Does and one John Doe, alleges that two eXp agents, Michael Bjorkman and David Golden, have a history of drugging and sexually assaulting women at eXp Realty recruiting events across the country, in violation of the federal sex trafficking statute.

Bjorkman, the lawsuit says, became an eXp agent in 2018 after being recruited by Golden, but after being arrested in early March 2021 on Miami-Dade County for two counts of sexual assault of Jane Doe 3, it is believed that he is no longer at the brokerage.

According to a statement in mid-May 2021, attorneys for Bjorkman said his case had been dismissed by the Clark County District Attorney’s office in Nevada. Golden remains at eXp as a recruiter and agent.

A spokesperson for eXp said the firm does not comment on ongoing litigation. Bjorkman and Golden did not return requests for comment by the time of publication.

According to the February 2023 civil complaint, Bjorkman and Golden would “entice women to travel in interstate commerce, recruit enthusiastic real estate agents with the promise of career advancement and coaching, and use their considerable influence in the real estate industry on these other real estate agents behalf, knowing that they would use means of force, fraud or coercion to cause these women to engage in a sex act.”

The lawsuit focuses on eXp’s agent recruitment-heavy business model. As part of eXp’s Revenue Share program, agents who recruit other agents to the brokerage receive a share of the commissions generated by their direct recruits. They also receive a share of the commissions generated by the agents their recruits have recruited.

Both Bjorkman and Golden were on the Revenue Share “upline” of Acevedo and the three Jane Doe plaintiffs, the lawsuit claims.

In addition, the complaint alleges that eXp Realty and its executives Glenn Sanford and Jason Gesing were aware of Bjorkman and Golden’s alleged actions “yet turned a blind eye, propelled by the continued financial benefits they received.”

The 42-page complaint contains accounts from the four female plaintiffs, all of whom claimed to have had a drink at a conference in the presence of Golden and/or Bjorkman, only for them to remember nothing prior to the next morning, when they woke up naked in their hotel rooms.

The counts in the lawsuit include sexual and civil battery, violations of the federal sex trafficking statute, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and, on the part of eXp, negligent hiring, retention and supervision.

The plaintiffs are demanding a jury trial. They are all represented by lawyers from the firm Cohen Hirsch, LP and Lenze Lawyers, PLC.