The Agency for the Performing Arts fired back at an agent who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit last month, saying she had falsified texts and emails she used as evidence — and has a history of fabrication.
In response, an attorney for the fired agent, who filed under the name Jane Doe, said she would file a defamation suit against the agency, whose clients include Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent and Gary Oldman.
“They just bought themselves yet another lawsuit,” Doe’s attorney, Michael S. Popok, said Wednesday.
The agent, who filed under the name Jane Doe, said in her lawsuit that she suffered a “toxic, pervasive and sexually abusive environment” at the agency, and was fired in retaliation after she complained. She said two high-ranking executives subjected her to unwanted sexual comments and overtures, and that she was sexually assaulted by a producer who was an APA client in July 2017. When she reported to top executives that she was assaulted, they warned her that she would be fired if she went to police, she said.
APA responded to those accusations Wednesday in a filing in which the agency requested that the case go to arbitration. The agency said Doe had agreed to arbitrate any claims against the company when she signed on as an employee in 2015.
But along with that dry argument were accusations that Doe was attempting a shakedown and trying to frame her former employers with false evidence.
APA said that the situation started in October 2017, when Doe worked at APA. The agency said she “tried to blackmail APA into paying her more money by threatening to publicize false allegations” and “demanded that APA pay her Tens of Millions of Dollars, intimating that [she] would try to destroy APA and its owners’ and agents’ reputations by publicizing her unfounded allegations and claims.”
APA said it hired a retired California Supreme Court justice to investigate the authenticity of two emails provided by the Plaintiff, and that she refused to cooperate with that investigation or an investigation into whether texts were authentic. In her lawsuit, Doe submitted what she said were printouts of text messages in which she said two APA executives made explicit sexual overtures to her.
“APA’s suspicions proved correct,” the agency said in its filing Wednesday. “The judge and the forensic investigator concluded that the two emails were not authentic… While the text messages appear on their face to be fabrications, Plaintiff would not provide her phone for examination.”
In addition, an insider familiar with the investigation told TheWrap on Wednesday that the executives turned their phones over to APA investigators, and gave the investigators access to their iCloud accounts. The investigators found no evidence that either man had sent Jane Doe the texts, the insider said.
APA also said that Doe had previously produced “fabricated text messages in a legal proceeding” — a Montgomery County, Maryland case in which she was ordered to pay $500,000.
Doe’s attorney accused the agency Wednesday of trying to encourage the news media to use details in the filing to reveal Doe’s real name.
“They are dead wrong about an unrelated case about her and her ex-boyfriend in Maryland,” Popok said. “She was not fined or penalized related to that. And another thing: What does that have to do with what happened to her at APA? … Other witnesses are going to come into that courtroom and say it not only happened to her, it happened to them. … That are going to say #MeToo. That are going to say we saw it.”
He concluded: “They want to tear her down and tear her apart in the media while they run and hide behind the closed door of arbitration.”
When she filed her suit last month, Doe took the unusual step of filing a verification form with her lawsuit, pledging to the truthfulness of her accusations, under penalty of perjury.
Doe, who says she has been unable to get work in Hollywood since her dismissal from APA, is seeking unspecified damages.
Agent Tyler Grasham was fired from APA in October 2017 amid sexual assault accusations. The Los Angeles District Attorney announced in May 2018 that it would not file charges against him.