8:25am PT by Ashley Cullins
Boy Band Member Sues Manager, APA Over Alleged Sexual Abuse
A member of boy band Forever in Your Mind is suing his former manager and several other music industry players for allegedly committing or abetting childhood sexual assault.
Ricky Garcia says his "meteoric rise" was derailed because a series of Hollywood execs preyed on him, alleging the abuse began when he was just 12 years old. Garcia and two other musicians formed FIYM in 2013 after he was eliminated from The X Factor.
In a complaint submitted Tuesday to the L.A. County Superior court which has not yet been assigned to a judge, Garcia says 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.
Larsen's attorney Marty Singer on Wednesday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the complaint. “My client Nils Larsen categorically disputes the claim," he said. "He intends to sue the attorneys for malicious prosecution after he prevails in this action.”
In the complaint, Geragos & Geragos attorney Ben Meiselas writes: "Defendant Harte, the ringleader, employed the well-worn pedophile playbook of grooming and seduction. 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."
Garcia, who is also being represented by attorney Michael Popok, says in the complaint that he didn't tell anyone about the experiences until March of 2018 because he was afraid of the potential fallout. He first told Harte's former assistant, who told Garcia's mother. According to the complaint, Harte tried to brush it off as "horseplay."
Garcia is suing Harte, Grasham, Larsen, Hot Rock Media and its CEO Joby Harte, Cohen/Thomas Management and its partners Sheri Andersen Thomas and Paul Cohen, as well as APA. He alleges the companies ratified the assault by "fostering a sexually abusive culture in their offices" and failed to take action to prevent the assault even though they knew or should have known that it had happened to others previously.
APA fired Grasham in October 2017 amid sexual harassment and assault allegations.
THR has reached out to defendants for comment.
Sept. 11, 4:45 p.m. Updated with a statement from attorney Marty Singer on behalf of his client Nils Larsen.