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Less than a year after fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander was convicted of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault against aspiring models, former beauty queen Claire Robinson has filed a class action lawsuit against a top talent agency, alleging sexual battery and other offenses. Robinson, a former Miss British Columbia, alleges that Jack Gilardi, an agent of International Creative Management (ICM), touched her inappropriately on the way to an award show in 2007. Robinson also alleges that ICM, which represents such high-profile clients as Chris Rock and Beyonce, engaged in the practice of “hip-pocketing,” in which an agent says he will represent an aspiring actress but never formally takes her on as a client. Robinson contends that the agency “sexually exploited the ‘hip-pocketed’ actresses” by taking them on fake auditions where they were sexually harrassed. ICM has vigorously denied these allegations.
Robinson alleges that the actions of Gilardi and ICM ruined her career and caused her to have a nervous breakdown. The lawsuit seeks millions of dollars in damages, including 10 percent of the firm’s gross earnings for one year as punitive damages. Robinson is also attemting to bring a RICO claim and seek treble damages.
Robinson brought the suit as a class action, and her attorneys have said they are hoping to find other women who may have had similar experiences with ICM. The attorneys have also stated that Robinson brought a civil claim as opposed to pursuing criminal charges in hopes of preventing similar abuses from happening to other women.
If true, Robinson’s allegations, coupled with the recent conviction of Anand Jon, may indeed suggest a disturbing trend of sexual exploitation of aspiring stars by those who have the power to advance their careers. However, the explanation of why Robinson chose to bring a multi-million dollar civil action as opposed to pursuing criminal charges seems, at the least, incomplete. It seems that criminal convictions against those involved in the sexual assault and/or exploitation would be far more effective in protecting other potential victims. It also seems somewhat odd that Robinson chose to bring a class action when she is unaware of other victims. It will be interesting to see if the settlement that will almost certainly result from the action will actually bring change to industry practices.
– Tori Langton
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