An anonymous former APA employee said in a lawsuit Wednesday that she suffered a “toxic, pervasive and sexually abusive environment” at the agency, and was fired in retaliation after she complained. The agency said in a statement that it had already investigated her claims and found them to be false, and accused her of an extortion attempt.
The lawsuit, filed under the name Jane Doe, 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. She said that when she reported to top executives that she was assaulted, they warned her that she would be fired if she went to police.
In a statement to TheWrap, an APA spokesperson said an investigation of Doe’s claims had found that she falsified texts and emails as part of a shakedown.
“APA has not seen the complaint. However, we heard many of these same claims months ago, hired independent investigators to look into them, and determined that not only are they false but that the person (a former terminated employee) raising them had fabricated email and text messages in order to shake the agency down,” the statement said.
It continued: “APA refused to pay the money and months ago sued the former employee in arbitration for extortion and defamation. We believe she is now retaliating against APA and its agents through this frivolous public complaint in which she hides her identity. We are confident that this former employee, now on her fourth attorney, will not succeed with her scheme of extortion. We intend to take all appropriate legal action against her and her newest counsel.”
Doe’s attorney, Michael S. Popok, noted that his client had taken the special step of filing a verification form with her lawsuit, pledging to the truthfulness of her accusations, under penalty of perjury.
“That stands in contrast to the statement made by APA,” he said.
The agency’s clients include Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent and Gary Oldman.
Doe said that Josh Humiston, an APA partner and the head of its music department, sent her unwanted sexual texts, including one that said, “If you f— me I’ll convince Jim to pay you more money.” She said the reference was to Jim Gosnell, CEO of the agency. Her lawsuit’s evidence included what she said was a printout of the text.
She also said Paul Santana, vice president of APA’s talent department, made sexual remarks. Her evidence included another printout of what she said were text exchanges with Santana, in which he is shown to say, “You make me so horny” and tries to persuade her to go with him on a weekend getaway where he “could finally live out these fantasies I have for you.”
The printout shows that she replied: “PAUL STOP! I want you to stop NOW. You’re married and this is not wanted.”
She also said that APA investigated her accusations against Santana, but that Gosnell instructed her to have “memory loss.” And she said an investigator looking into her Santana accusations cut her off when she tried to complain about Humiston.
Doe also said she spent two years as Gosnell’s assistant, and that during that time he called her a “b—” and “f—ing c—,” and threw a stapler and trash can at her.
The lawsuit claims sexual harassment, gender violence, civil harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent retention and supervision, retaliation, wrongful termination and sexual battery. It names APA, Gosnell, Santana, Humiston, and Michael Hammond, the producer she accused of assault, as defendants.
Hammond did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
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.
The Hollywood Reporter first broke the news of Doe’s lawsuit.