(Update: Tyler Grasham has been fired from the Agency for the Performing Arts. )
The Agency for the Performing Arts is investigating a former actor’s accusation that Tyler Grasham, a top representative to young stars, sexually assaulted him a decade ago, when he was in his late teens.
“APA takes these allegations extremely seriously and is investigating this matter,” an agency spokesperson told TheWrap in regards to an account written by filmmaker Blaise Godbe Lipman.
The agency, which represents clients including Kate McKinnon and Mira Sorvino, is hiring a third-party firm to investigate the matter. When asked about Grasham’s employment status, the spokesperson said APA does not comment on confidential personnel matters.
Lipman (pictured above), who has appeared on shows including “Weeds,” noted in an online post that Grasham has minors as clients.
“Tyler Grasham, under the pretense of a business meeting regarding potential agency representation at APA Agency, fed me alcohol while I was underage and sexually assaulted me,” Lipman wrote in a letter uploaded on Facebook and Instagram.
“APA Agency has kept this man employed, working with kid actors. I find it incredibly difficult to believe they do not know of his predatory behavior, using his position within the company to prey on naive kids,” he continued. (Besides young clients like 14-year-old “It” and “Stranger Things” star Finn Wolfhard, Grasham also represents adult actors like “Pretty Little Liars” star Keegan Allen).
Lipman told TheWrap he met Grasham when he was 17 or 18. He said he turned 18 in June of 2007, and was assaulted that summer. He cannot recall if the date of the assault was before or after his birthday, he said.
Lipman told TheWrap that he first met with Grasham at APA’s Beverly Hills office and that later they had another meeting at a restaurant where he “got me drunk.” The assault happened at Grasham’s home after that dinner, Lipman said. His account said that, after the assault, Grasham recruited friends of his to call Lipman and berate him or pressure him to stay silent.
On Wednesday evening, hours after Lipman posted his name, Grasham deleted his Facebook page and Instagram profile.
Last week, APA issued a statement saying it was “deeply disturbed” by the sexual harassment and assault accusations against Harvey Weinstein and pledged to uphold the “highest ethical standards.”
The accusations against Weinstein, who has denied any non-consensual sex, have incited a reckoning in Hollywood and worldwide. But less attention has been paid to instances of same-sex harrassment or assault.
A growing number of men and women have come forward with accusations against people they say harassed or assaulted them, and many have used the #metoo hash tag, or simply used the phrase “me too” to join the movement of people speaking out.
Lipman initially posted about being assaulted in a “me too” post that did not name Grasham. So Lipman said he was stunned when, after it posted, Grasham “poked” him on Facebook.
“Was his poke passive aggressive? An abuser making himself known, a quiet threat? An admission of guilt with a smirky, ‘just try me’? I don’t know and I don’t care. It felt gross,” Lipman wrote.
Prior to the “poke,” he said he had not had any contact with Grasham in a decade.
One person with knowledge of APA told TheWrap that several agents have gone to the human resources department to complain about what they said was Grasham’s habit of “hip-pocketing” teenage actors. “Hip-pocketing” is slang for stringing along potential clients with scripts and other opportunities without signing them.
Complaints about Grasham and these practices date to 2013, the individual said, and were the subject of numerous conversations with agency leadership.
APA’s client Sorvino is one of Weinstein’s most prominent accusers. AGA also represents Hilarie Burton, who last week tweeted that actor Ben Affleck grabbed her breast during an MTV interview. (Affleck apologized for his behavior with her, without going into specifics.)
“All of us at APA are deeply disturbed by the recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein. We denounce this conduct in any form, and our sadness and support for the victims who have courageously come forward cannot be understated,” the agency told The Hollywood Reporter last week. “At APA, we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards and pledge to continue our unwavering commitment to diversity, empowerment, tolerance and inclusion in the workplace that are the cornerstones of our corporate culture.”
Here is Godbe’s open letter:
Yesterday I posted my “me too” contribution, briefly sharing my experience with sexual assault at the hands of a man in a position of power in the entertainment industry. I didn’t name names, just the company he worked for. People poured out of the woodwork in private message, aware of who I must be talking about. His reputation was enough, I didn’t have to say his name.
We haven’t had any correspondence in a decade, and aren’t friends on FB, yet today, out of the blue, he “pokes” me. He must have been made aware of the post by one of our many mutuals. Was his poke passive agressive? An abuser making himself known, a quiet threat? An admission of guilt with a smirky, ‘just try me’ ? I don’t know and I don’t care. It felt gross.
And it was the tipping point that made me me want to open up in a real frank way. His name is Tyler Grasham, an agent at APA Agency.
The positive thing about the attention the Weinstein scandal has had, is it’s no longer about Harvey. The conversation has moved on to the size of this epidemic and how to dismantle the system that protects these predators. And it’s given space and courage for victims to speak up, against their abuse. This is bigger than Weinstein.
The “poke” reminded me about Tyler’s harassment after the ordeal. He told me I’d never work in this biz. He’d have his friends drunklenly call me and berate me. I didn’t do anything at the time. I was young and desperately wanted acceptance within my industry. His threats felt very real. Although my initial reaction yesterday and today was to not make this about me, there’s no better time. Tyler Grasham is still working at APA, where’s his been representing children and teenagers for the last ten years since this happened.
Tyler Grasham, under the pretense of a business meeting regarding potential agency representation at APA Agency, fed me alcohol while I was underage and sexually assaulted me. APA Agency has kept this man employed, working with kid actors. I find it incredibly difficult to believe they do not know of his predatory behavior, using his position within the company to prey on naive kids. Although his power in this biz is no where near Weinstein level, the collective power of agents is massive. I hope the light that’s shed by the newly empowered victims who are coming forward, makes predators think twice. Change is slow but I hope this is a big jump start.