Terry Crews sues talent agency WME for groping incident

Actor Terry Crews speaks onstage during Spike TV's 10th Annual Guys Choice Awards at Sony Pictures Studios on June 4, 2016 in Culver City, California.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Terry Crews has openly spoken about his allegations of sexual assault against William Morris Endeavor (WME) executive Adam Venit, and now he's taking things a step further. The actor alleges talent agents at William Morris Endeavor "knowingly permitted and encouraged to engage in sexually predatory conduct" in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the agency and Venit.

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 Feb. 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 the 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 the two men have retaliated against him for going public with his allegations, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit contends the agency knew Venit was predatory and condoned his behavior by failing to punish him for it.

Venit and William Morris Endeavor did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Crews added his name to the list of Hollywood's sexual harassment victims in October when he revealed that he was groped by a high-level talent agent at an industry event. Crews discussed the incident and named Venit as his attacker on "Good Morning America" last month.

At the time, the actor told co-host Michael Strahan that in February 2016, Venit, the longtime head of WME's motion picture group, groped his genitals at an event honoring Adam Sandler. 

Crews said he felt "free" after naming Venit. He compared going public to being a released prisoner of war and he added, "I have totally said, 'I will not be shamed.' I will not be shamed. I did nothing wrong."

He also explained that this year, he talked to Emmanuel and urged him to blacklist Venit. 

"I brought out a letter that he wrote in 2011 which demanded that Mel Gibson be blacklisted from Hollywood for anti-Semitic [comments]," he said. "I took that letter, crossed out Mel Gibson, put Adam Venit, crossed out anti-Semitic remarks and put sexual assault. I said, 'Read that letter. Now you know what you got to do.' He said, 'It's different.'"

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 by 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."