Actor Terry Crews filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the man who he claims sexually assaulted him at a party in 2016. Crews’ lawsuit also targets the agency Venit works for, claiming it was aware of his behavior. Deadline reports:
A week after Adam Venit went back to work as an agent at WME, Terry Crews is taking the uber-agency and the former head of its Motion Picture Group to court for sexual assault and sexual battery. The nine-claim complaint also claims this isn’t the first time Venit has acted in such an inappropriate manner, and the company run by Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell knows it…
“Crews is informed and believes that Venit has a long history of bizarre behavior and has engaged in prior sexual predatory acts all of which WME was fully aware,” added the filing, which seeks unspecified but widespread damages. “Yet, WME did not take any action to deal with Venit’s misconduct and allowed him to prey on WME clients, like Crews.”
If you’ve followed this story at all then the details of the alleged assault contained in the lawsuit are probably familiar to you. Crews gave an interview to ABC News last month in which he described what happened:
“He looked me in my eyes and he was sticking his tongue out overtly sexually to me,” Crews said. He continued, “I mean it was no mistake that this was a sexual type tongue move…and I’m thinking ‘Is this a joke?’ I’m thinking ‘Is this how this guy breaks the ice?’ I don’t understand what this is.
“I reached my hand out and he takes his right hand and, under mine, immediately squeezes, grabs my genitals. I jump back ‘Hey! Hey! Whoa!’ And he jumps back and he still does this tongue stuff and he’s making weird noises and he comes back again and grabs me again! I slapped his hand away, pushed him back more forcefully and I’m like ‘What are you doing?!’
After the alleged assault, Crews reported it to his agency and wasn’t satisfied with their response. Eventually, he went public with the story on Twitter and that led to him meeting with the head of William Morris Endeavor, Ari Emanuel, who was Adam Venit’s boss.
The showdown between Crews and Emanuel is like a scene from a movie. Crews wanted Emanuel to fire Venit over his behavior. Emanuel said Venit would get a one-month suspension, plus a demotion and be required to enter some kind of rehab. Crews responded by pulling out a letter which Emanuel himself had written for the Huffington Post back in 2006. The letter was a plea for Hollywood to shun Mel Gibson for his anti-Semitic comments. It reads in part:
I wish Mel Gibson well in dealing with his alcoholism, but alcoholism does not excuse racism and anti-Semitism. It is one thing when marginal figures with no credibility make anti-Semitic statements. It is a completely different thing when a figure of Mel Gibson’s stature does so…
Now we know the truth. And no amount of publicist-approved contrition can paper it over. People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line.
There are times in history when standing up against bigotry and racism is more important than money.
But in the version of the letter that Crews handed to Emanuel, Mel Gibson’s name had been crossed out and replaced with Adam Venit’s name. And every reference to anti-Semitism was replaced with “sexual harassment.” Crews then asked Emanuel to read the letter and said it would tell him what to do about Adam Venit.
Unfortunately, Crews’ gambit didn’t work. Emanuel argued that the two cases weren’t comparable but promised an investigation of Venit. Bottom line: He wasn’t going to fire him. But putting the outcome aside, this is still one of the coolest moves ever, the kind of moral showdown that only happens in the movies. Someone should option the rights to this story immediately. Maybe Terry Crews can play himself in the film.