Former boy bander Ricky Garcia bravely revealed yesterday that he was just 12 years old when the abuse began. The same way former Disney child star Jordan Pruitt came up through The Voice to catch the attention of Hollywood, and Disney’s Hollywood Records, Ricky Garcia got his start on X Factor and also landed at Disney’s Hollywood Records.
Garcia states in a lawsuit filed yesterday at the L.A. County Superior court, that his ex-manager, Joby Harte, raped and sexually assaulted him “dozens of times” during his teenage years. Garcia also claims Harte groomed him into a “sexual plaything that could be passed around his friends in the business,” including ex-APA agent Tyler Grasham and manager-producer Nils Larsen. He accuses Grasham of making sexually aggressive comments and licking his toes and Larsen of grabbing his penis over his pants at a concert in 2016.
“Defendant Harte, the ringleader, employed the well-worn pedophile playbook of grooming and seduction,” writes Garcia’s attorney in the complaint. “He targeted an economically and emotionally vulnerable pre-teen and his parents. He then groomed and seduced the child’s mother to have her lay down her defenses and give him unfettered access to her son, making her an unwitting accomplice to his depravity.”
Fearing the potential fallout, Garcia says in the complaint that he didn’t tell anyone about the experiences until March of 2018.
Garcia joins Jordan Pruitt in what is becoming a movement of former child stars suing, directly, those who perpetrated the abuse as well as the larger Hollywood companies who enabled it, both former child stars alleging that the companies knew or should have known, and are liable and complicit in the crimes.
In his lawsuit, Garcia is going after Joby Harte, Tyler Grasham, Nils Larsen, Hot Rock Media and its CEO Joby Harte, Cohen/Thomas Management and its partners Sheri Andersen Thomas and Paul Cohen, as well as talent agency behemoth APA, marking the first of these child star lawsuits to go after one of the big 5 agencies. A trend that, if continued, will significantly add to the recent and ongoing woes of these titans, which are arguably the biggest symbol of the Hollywood machine. From the fury over their practice of packaging and foray into producing, making them the boss of the very talent they purport to represent, to these claims from child stars, the agencies are proving to be nothing more than high priced pimps.
It’s worth noting that APA did fired Grasham in October 2017 amid sexual harassment and assault allegations, after accuser Blaise Godbe Lipman, now 28, went public on Facebook saying that the rep sexually assaulted him 10 years ago when he was seeking representation as a child actor. At the time, Deadline also spoke to another man who came forward with a similar allegation against Grasham. On the heels of these accusations of child sex crimes, both Disney mega-star Cameron Boyce and Stranger Things Finn Wolfhard fired Tyler Grasham. Cameron Boyce died suddenly some 18 months later.
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