Terry Crews alleges talent agents at William Morris Endeavor (WME) are “knowingly permitted and encouraged to engage in sexually predatory conduct” in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the agency and one of its top executives.
Crews’ complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, states the actor and former NFL player was subjected to sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender violence and emotional distress during and after a February 2016 incident in which he says he was repeatedly groped by a talent executive.
The lawsuit recounts Crews’ allegations that agent Adam Venit groped him at a Hollywood party last year and details the actor’s efforts to see Venit disciplined after the incident.
Crews complained about Venit to agency chairman Ari Emanuel and claims that the two men have retaliated against the actor for going public with his allegations, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges that the agency knew Venit was predatory and condoned his behaviour by failing to punish him for it.
Crews claims in his lawsuit that Venit, Emanuel and other agency executives have since tried to silence him and hurt his career.
“Crews had no choice but to bring this action to protect himself and to stand up for all victims of sexual predators,” the suit says. “Through this case, Crews seeks to send a message to all abusers and sexual predators, that, no matter how powerful you are, you can be held accountable for your reprehensible misconduct and so will the companies that cover up your disgusting misdeeds.”
As of this writing, Venit and WME have not responded to requests for comment.
Crews added his name to the list of Hollywood’s sexual harassment victims in October when he took to Twitter to reveal that he was groped by a high-level talent agent at an industry party.
He also discussed the incident and named Venit as the alleged groper on Good Morning America last month.
“Back in February 2016, I was assaulted by Adam Venit, who is head of the motion picture department at William Morris Endeavor, one of the biggest agencies in the world, period,” Crews said.
The actor said he was with his wife, Rebbeca King-Crews, at the party when Venit was “basically staring at me, and he’s sticking his tongue out — just overtly sexual kind of tongue moves.”
“He comes over to me. I stick my hand out and he literally takes his hand and puts it and squeezes my genitals,” Crews said. “I jump back like, ‘Hey, hey.’ And he’s still sticking his tongue out and all this stuff and I go, ‘Dude, what are you doing? What are you doing’ and then he comes back again. He just won’t stop.”
Crews said that he has “never felt more emasculated, more objectified. I was horrified.”
Crews took to Twitter yesterday to point out that Venit is actor Dustin Hoffman’s agent.
Actress Anna Graham Hunter has alleged that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate comments when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie Death of a Salesman.
“Guess who’s Dustin Hoffman’s agent? My assailant @WME’s Adam Venit. If I wrote this in a movie you’d call it ridiculous. ABUSERS PROTECT ABUSERS,” Crews wrote.
—With files from the Associated Press