Genstar’s Jean-Pierre Conte sued in Aspen by ex-girlfriend Hillary Thomas

Pitkin County Courthouse
Aspen Times file

The former girlfriend of Jean-Pierre Conte, the chairman and managing director of the private equity firm Genstar Capital, filed suit Thursday in Aspen claiming that Conte committed assault, battery, and violated the terms of a 2021 separation agreement. Hillary Thomas claims in her lawsuit that during her more than nine years with Conte, she helped parent his four children and her two children “whom they raised in a blended family.”

According to the lawsuit, Thomas claims Conte assaulted her in January 2022 at their shared home on King Street in Aspen. Thomas also claims Conte engaged in a smear campaign against her when she would not comply with his demands.

In a statement, Conte’s attorney, Kerry Garvis Wright, denied the allegations, dismissing the suit as a “money grab” by Thomas. Wright further stated that it was Thomas who was “verbally abusive” toward Conte and his children.

“During their nine-year dating relationship, Mr. Conte provided Ms. Thomas millions of dollars in cash, gifts, and support for her children,” Wright said. “She continually asked for more, starting by requesting that Mr. Conte buy her a multi-million dollar house on their fourth date. When Mr. Conte finally said no to her years of increasingly exorbitant demands, he received a letter from Ms. Thomas’ lawyer making — for the first time — a false claim of abuse in an attempt to get more money, even after they broke up. But those allegations paled in comparison to the false assertions in the lawsuit. Contrary to the latest iteration of her allegations, Mr. Conte never attacked or abused her.” 

Sigrid McCawley, co-lead counsel for Thomas, said in a statement that “even the powerful and the privileged can be held to account.”

“And that is what this case against Jean-Pierre Conté is about — holding to account an abusive man who believes his power and privilege puts him above the law,” McCawley said.

The suit alleges that during the early hours of Jan 9, Conte and Thomas were on their way home from dinner with friends. During a discussion about Conte’s “approach to parenting one of his children,” he became enraged and left Thomas to walk home in the cold.

She claims that after arriving home and letting the dogs out, Thomas felt safer sleeping in the guest room on the first floor. Soon after falling asleep, she was awakened by the sound of Conte pounding on the door. When she refused to let him in, she claims he began “bashing at the door” until he was eventually able to gain entrance.

From there, the suit states that Conte then dragged Thomas out of bed, threw her on the floor and while pinning her down he tried to “rip a ring off her ring finger and a watch from her wrist,” all the while berating her with “demeaning invectives.”

Thomas claims she was eventually able to shimmy out from under Conte, only to be further chased and attacked in other rooms of the house before seeking protection from Conte’s private chef in the basement. Thomas claims she was then able to contact her sister who drove to the King Street home to pick her up.

According to the complaint, Thomas would later report the assault at Response, a rape crisis center in Aspen. 

Additionally, after the alleged assault, Thomas claims Conte terminated her health insurance, as she had been employed by Conte and did not have access to an employer-provided health plan.

Thomas says that she continued to seek counseling to address ongoing anguish. She claims that she trusted that Conte would reimburse payments as part of an obligation in a May 2021 agreement they both had signed. Conte refused to pay her provider, and to date, has continued to refuse despite repeated requests from counsel, according to the complaint.

Thomas further claims that in March 2022, Conte told his friends in Los Angeles and mutual contacts in Aspen that she was making up stories, that he was never violent towards her, and that she had hired an attorney as a means to “get money from him.”

The lawsuit says that Conte owns several Aspen properties and luxurious properties around the world.