Talent agency William Morris Endeavor (WME) has submitted its response to “White Chicks” actor Terry Crews, who alleges he was repeatedly groped by a WME talent executive at a Hollywood party in 2016.
In court documents submitted Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the agency disputes turning a blind eye to the incident. WME says it acted “decisively.”
Crews first told his own story in tweets, and later, in a lawsuit against talent agent Adam Venit and WME in December.
According to the actor, he complained to his own agent about what happened, only to see WME take no immediate action. Crews alleges talent agents at WME are “knowingly permitted and encouraged to engage in sexually predatory conduct” in his lawsuit filed in December.
Crews’ complaint stated the actor and former NFL player was subjected to sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender violence and emotional distress during and after the February 2016 incident.
Crews’ lawsuit recounts allegations that Venit groped him at a Hollywood party almost two years ago and details the actor’s efforts to see Venit disciplined after the incident.
Venit received a 30-day suspension from WME after an investigation and was stripped of his department head title. He returned to work Nov. 27, 2017.
WME has stayed largely silent on the matter in the past weeks but is now fighting the allegation that it has accepted Venit’s conduct.
“The facts are these: The day after the alleged incident, Mr. Crews mentioned it to no one at WME other than his agent, who nevertheless immediately raised it with Mr. Venit,” states WME’s answer. “That same day, Mr. Venit called Mr. Crews and apologized. Mr. Crews accepted the apology and then told the only two WME employees to whom he had spoken about the incident that everything was okay. That was the last mention Mr. Crews made of the incident to anyone at WME for nearly 18 months — during which time he remained a WME client. That is no surprise since, as Mr. Crews admitted in his later Tweets, he had ‘decided not to take it further’ and ‘let it go.’”
In the answer, WME, which is represented by lawyers Steven Marenberg and Robert Schwartz, pointed out that Crews never contacted WME’s leadership before deciding to go public during the #MeToo movement. By doing so, they write, Crews “equated himself with the women and men who have been forced, sometimes repeatedly and over an extended period, to submit to sex or endure sexual harassment to keep their jobs or advance their careers, while the perpetrators and others who knew about it looked the other way.”
“In contrast, the response of WME’s senior leadership, upon learning that Mr. Crews had not ‘let it go’ and had accused one of its agents of the conduct alleged here, was both swift and serious,” states the answer. “They quickly contacted Mr. Crews and expressed their concerns. They asked Mr. Crews to meet with them. He accepted. At those meetings, WME encouraged Mr. Crews to tell them everything that had happened, to be as open with the public as he wanted, and to propose whatever form of resolution he thought was justified. Shortly thereafter, WME suspended Mr. Venit — without pay — for one month and dramatically demoted him, by stripping him of his title and position as head of the Motion Picture Group.”
WME added that they will “present these and other facts to the Court for resolution because WME’s acts should not and do not create any liability to Mr. Crews.”
The answer continued: “To the contrary, those acts demonstrate that WME decisively addressed and punished the conduct Mr. Crews alleges that Mr. Venit engaged in, bar any assertion that WME ‘ratified’ the conduct, and thereby absolve WME of liability. For these reasons, and until the Court hears all of the evidence, it should not accept Mr. Crews’ allegations against WME.”
As of this writing, Crews has not responded to WME’s answer.