Woman sues top Hollywood talent agency for sexual harassment
EXCLUSIVE: ‘You must suck black c***s to sign clients.’ Woman sues top Hollywood talent agency claiming executives tried to fondle her, demanded sex, called her a ‘c***’ and told her to keep quiet when sexually assaulted by client
- A female talent agency filed suit against the Agency for the Performing Arts and some of its top executives for sexual harassment and gender violence
- The woman, who filed the suit as a Jane Doe in Los Angeles on Wednesday, accuses Jim Gosnell and two other bosses of a litany of misconduct
- The female talent agent claims the harassment began when she started in May 2015 and lasted until she was fired in August 2018
- She claims Gosnell, the CEO of APA, called her an ‘icy cold c***’ and threw a stapler at her head
- Another boss allegedly tried to squeeze her breasts, another demanded oral sex, called her a c*** and said: ‘You must suck black c***s to sign clients’
- She claims she was harassed by sexual text messages, with a boss asking ‘what color lingerie are you wearing?’ and told her: ‘You make me so hard’
- The woman claims she was sexually assaulted by a client but was told by her own bosses that she would be fired if she went to police
A female talent agent claims she was sexually harassed by executives at one of Hollywood’s top talent agencies who tried to fondle her, demanded sex, and called her a ‘c***’ – then told her to keep quiet when she was sexually assaulted by a client, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Executives at the Agency for the Performing Arts, which represents Kiefer Sutherland, Gary Oldman, Jeff Bridges and rappers 50 Cent and T.I., are being sued for sexual harassment and gender violence by the former executive assistant and talent agent who says she was forced out for telling the truth about what happened to her.
The company’s president and CEO, Jim Gosnell, and two other bosses are accused of a litany of misconduct by the woman, who is suing as a Jane Doe.
One boss, she alleges in her court action, tried to squeeze her breasts saying they ‘are not real,’ another demanded oral sex, called her a c*** and said: ‘You must suck black c***s to sign clients.’
According to her claims, another asked ‘what color lingerie are you wearing?’ and told her: ‘You make me so hard.’
And she says Gosnell, the CEO, called her an ‘icy cold c***’ and threw a stapler at her head.
Executives at the Agency for the Performing Arts are being sued for sexual harassment and gender violence by a former executive assistant and talent agent who says she was forced out for telling the truth about what happened to her. The company’s president and CEO, Jim Gosnell (pictured), and two other bosses are accused of a litany of misconduct by the woman
She was even sexually assaulted by the chief operating officer of a client company but told by her own bosses that she would be fired if she went to police, she alleges in court papers filed Wednesday in Los Angeles.
The suit claims the executives at the Beverly Hills based agency – which handles other big names including Ceelo Green, Tyga, Criss Angel, Wesley Snipes, Blondie, Judas Priest, Mary J. Blige, Nickelback, and DJ Paul Oakenfold – felt so ‘protected’ by the company and its senior management and HR and legal departments, that they felt comfortable sending a series of lewd and threatening texts to the woman.
The suit claims Josh Humiston, APA’s head of music, subjected Jane Doe to ‘crude and sexual comments and overtures’ he made during her time working at the company.
In early May 2015, just weeks after the woman started her position as executive assistant to the CEO, Humiston said to her: ‘I know your breasts are not real,’ before reaching out to squeeze them.
‘Plaintiff moved out of the way in just enough time to avoid Humiston’s grasp,’ the suit claims.
The suit claims that following the incident – on a weekly and often daily basis – Humiston asked and even demanded that the woman have sex with him or pleasure him orally.
It’s alleged Humiston made further several ‘offensive and disparaging’ remarks to the employee during office hours including: ‘I didn’t marry a Jewish b***h like you because they don’t take it up the a**,’ and ‘If you don’t f**k me you’ll never make agent.’
The senior staffer also sent vile texts, included as exhibits in the legal filing, in which he says: ‘If you f**k me, I’ll convince Jim (the CEO) to pay you more money.’
Another text seen by DailyMail.com read: ‘Your body is so hot, I’ve never seen you in a bikini. You should come over to my pool.’
The suit claims Josh Humiston (pictured), APA’s head of music, subjected Jane Doe to ‘crude and sexual comments and overtures’ he made during her time working at the company. The suit claims on a weekly and often daily basis, Humiston asked and even demanded that the woman have sex with him or pleasure him orally
The senior staffer also sent vile texts (pictured), included as exhibits in the legal filing, in which he says: ‘If you f**k me, I’ll convince Jim (the CEO) to pay you more money.’ But when the employee rebuffed his unwanted advances Humiston, it’s alleged, turned nasty
But when the employee rebuffed his unwanted advances Humiston, it’s alleged, turned nasty.
‘You’re a f**king c**t. You must suck black c**ks… to sign clients,’ he wrote in one sinister text, according to court documents.
In another text included in the complaint, he allegedly wrote: ‘I’m going to get you fired b***h. I know you suck p***y and c**k.’
The suit – filed by attorneys Ben Meiselas and Michael Popok – states that Jane Doe repeatedly reported Humiston’s unwanted sexual harassment and boorish remarks to her boss Gosnell and APA’s head of human resources, Joanne Johnson, but neither disciplined the exec.
The employee claims she later discovered Gosnell and Johnson were engaged in a secret love affair which, the suit suggests, might explain why nothing was done.
Instead her complaints were dismissed and she was told it was part of life working at a top talent agency and that she ‘better get used to it’, the suit claims.
The legal paperwork alleges Humiston wasn’t alone in his disturbing behavior.
The filing also names Paul Santana, vice president of APA’s talent department, who it’s claimed would ‘routinely make wildly inappropriate and sexually demeaning’ comments towards the woman.
The comments included: ‘Your booty looks so hot today,’ and you make me so hard’ and ‘what color lingerie are you wearing.’
The suit alleges Santana ‘incessantly texted and verbally made sexually graphic remarks’ to the female employee.
‘…you make me so horny. Right across from me all day (;) all the thoughts are running through my head,’ read one lewd text message from Santana.
The filing also names Paul Santana (pictured), vice president of APA’s talent department, who it’s claimed would ‘routinely make wildly inappropriate and sexually demeaning’ comments towards the woman
The suit alleges Santana ‘incessantly texted and verbally made sexually graphic remarks’ to the female employee. The comments included: ‘Your booty looks so hot today,’ and you make me so hard’ and ‘what color lingerie are you wearing’
In another obtained by DailyMail.com, he said: ‘If I take you on a weekend getaway, I could finally live out these fantasies I have for you,’ adding in other messages: ‘…come on. Your a** looks so hot in those jeans,’ and ‘Do you know how hard I am right now? All for you?’
When the woman texted back stating clearly, ‘PAUL STOP! I want you to stop NOW. You’re married and this is not wanted,’ his churlish response was: ‘Those are just the logistics sexy. Let me deal with the wife.’
Sadly for Jane Doe her senior boss Gosnell wasn’t much easier to deal with.
She claims she was forced to endure Gosnell’s mood swings, which, the suit claims, would manifest themselves into ‘violent, physical bursts of anger,’ including, on multiple occasions calling her a ‘b***h’ and a ‘f***ing c**t’.
She claims Gosnell threw a glass of water at her after berating her in August 2016; called her a c**t and threw a trash can filled with trash and a glass at her in January 2017; later that same year in December, he threw a stapler at her head while berating her for two hours and in January 2018 he again threw a trash can at her calling her an ‘icy cold c**t’.
Again she complained to HR but each time her complaints were met with ‘excuses, indifference or opaque warnings that if she continued to complain about such behavior, she would not advance at APA,’ the suit states.
Despite her continued troubles, in April 2017, the female employee was promoted be a talent agent, her dream job.
But, the suit claims, senior managers still found ‘cruel ways to harass and retaliate against her.’
The woman claims she was given a tiny office in the kitchen – ‘the office real estate equivalent of Siberia’ – in a bid to further demean her.
It’s claimed senior executives would then offer to ‘rescue’ her from the kitchen in return for sexual favors and Humiston told her ‘If you f**k me, maybe you’ll get an office.’
The suit claims other executives and male colleagues dubbed her ‘Cinderella’ over her kitchen office and she would frequently be interrupted by chatting colleagues who would leave dirty dishes and half eaten food on her desk.
The conduct ‘promoted and condoned’ by APA, the suit alleges, culminated with a sexual assault on Jane Doe by one of the firm’s top clients.
It’s alleged in the filing that Michael Hammond (pictured), chief operating officer of TV production firm Collins Avenue Productions, which is one of APA’s premier clients, thrust himself on Jane Doe during a business meeting at his office in July 2017
It’s alleged in the filing that Michael Hammond, chief operating officer of TV production firm Collins Avenue Productions, which is one of APA’s premier clients, thrust himself on Jane Doe during a business meeting at his office in July 2017.
‘Hammond thrust himself onto Plaintiff with an erect penis, forcibly kissing her mouth while placing his hands on her hips and then sliding them up her chest and grabbing her breasts,’ it’s claimed.
The paperwork says the woman was ‘terrified and shaking’ from the encounter and was only able to escape when Hammond’s secretary knocked on his office door.
She immediately returned back to the APA offices and reported the incident to Gosnell and Johnson and the two APA partners Jim Osborne and Hayden Meyer.
The suit claims that Gosnell and Meyer both warned the employee that if she reported the sexual assault to police she would be immediately fired.
It’s also alleged that when Gosnell told APA’s General Counsel, Julia Johnson, about Hammond’s alleged attack, Johnson instructed the employee that she needed to ‘zip her lips’ because, ‘Collins Avenue is a very important client to APA.’
Collins Avenue is the production company behind hits including Dance Moms, The Drama Queen and American Stuffers. She did not go to police.
Jane Doe says she was forced to continue working with Hammond and not two months later Hammond sent her a string of suggestive text messages, calling her ‘sexy’ and saying ‘I know you want me.’
When contacted by DailyMail.com regarding the serious allegations of sexual assault leveled against him, Michael Hammond responded, ‘No comment.’
In October 2017 a scandal erupted at APA when one of its former top talent agents, Tyler Grasham, was alleged to have sexually assaulted multiple minor boys.
A Los Angeles Times article lifted the lid on the scandal that shocked Hollywood.
The suit claims the executives at APA (pictured) – which handles big names including Ceelo Green, Tyga, Criss Angel, Wesley Snipes, Everclear, Mary J. Blige and Nickelback – felt so ‘protected’ by the company and its senior management and HR and legal departments, that they felt comfortable sending a series of lewd and threatening texts to the woman
APA came under intense scrutiny and in November that year the agency retained a third-party investigator to probe Jane Doe’s claims.
But Gosnell ordered the employee to have a ‘memory loss’ and withheld a holiday bonus check from her, it’s claimed.
Despite this, she told the investigator during an interview the full extent of the sexual harassment she allegedly suffered at the hands of Humiston and Santana.
But after the interview on February 6, 2018, the suit claims she was immediately ostracized by everyone at the company and cut out of important meetings and calls.
As a result Jane Doe began working from home where she stayed until her termination in August 2018.
The suit claims the junior agent was ultimately fired from APA after the firm conducted a ‘fake’ investigation into her allegations.
The company even filed an arbitration claim against the woman claiming that her reporting of APA’s abusive conduct constituted harassment of the agency, in what was ‘the ultimate act of intimidation,’ the suit claims.
The lawsuit states: ‘Plaintiff’s dream of becoming a well-respected Talent Agent was quickly and cruelly dashed before it could even truly begin by a toxic, pervasive, and sexually abusive environment fomented by the senior management at one of the nation’s top talent agencies.’
APA is one of the largest talent agencies with offices in Nashville, New York, Atlanta, London and Toronto and boasted an early client roster of Johnny Cash, The Doors, and Liberace.
Jane Doe says she has been unable to find work as a talent agent.
She is suing APA for unspecified punitive damages claiming emotional distress and wrongful termination among other things.
DailyMail.com reached out to APA for comment and spoke with Joanne Johnson, who’s title these days is Administrative Director.
When asked about the allegations she simply said ‘no comment’ before hanging up the phone.
New York based attorney Michael Popok, who reps Jane Doe, said: ‘Our client is standing behind these allegations with her full weight, even signing what we call a verified pleading, which means on sworn testimony, she’s saying what happened to her happened to her and it’s backed by text messages.
‘The really outrageous thing for me is the toxicity of the culture, the men in power there – she wasn’t harassed, assaulted and discriminated against by low level employees – we’re talking the apex of management at the firm, it starts with the CEO and the heads of various business units there that target her.
‘But they felt that they could do it with impunity including over text message.’
Mr Popok said his client has ‘suffered’ through what has happened for a long period of time.
‘She wanted to be a Talent Agent. In the old Hollywood days men would work there way up from the mail room, that was the stepping stone to being a Talent Agent.
‘She did it as the Executive Assistant to the CEO. But working your way up shouldn’t be grinding your way through a gauntlet of men, who prey on you in order for you to get the top job.’
Mr Popok said the alleged discrimination and harassment happened pre the MeToo era, adding of Jane Doe: ‘She’s really suffered long enough.’
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