Former Disney Channel star Ricky Garcia, now 20, alleges Joby Harte of Hot Rock Media abused him from the age of 12 and throughout his teenage years, according to a legal suit filed on Wednesday in LA County Superior Court.
The manager used the “well-worn paedophile playbook of grooming and seduction” by initially having conversations with Garcia about sexuality, showing him porn and later plying him with alcohol before raping him, the suit alleges.
By the time Garcia was 16, Harte sexually assaulted him “on an almost weekly basis,” the legal case claims.
Harte, 37, groomed the budding star as a “sexual plaything that could be passed around his friends in the business,” including a former agent and a manager and producer, the suit alleges.
The alleged abuse “derailed” Garcia’s career and will “take him a lifetime to recover from,” his lawyers Ben Meiselas and Michael Popok of Geragos & Geragos said.
“High powered male entertainment industry executives, led by his former manager Joby Harte, who were responsible for nurturing his career, instead sexually preyed on his economic and emotional vulnerability, and sexually assaulted and raped him,” the lawyers alleged in a statement.
The former X-Factor contestant didn’t tell anyone about the alleged abuse until March 2018 because he was afraid he would lose his career, the suit says. He first told Harte’s former assistant, who told Garcia’s mother.
When confronted, Harte allegedly tried to brush it off as “horseplay,” according to the suit.
In an Instagram post today, Garcia thanked his family, friends and God for helping him have “the courage to speak out against the executives who sexually abused me as a child”.
“Sadly, I know my experience is just one of many and I hope my actions today will help others who experienced abuse to know that they are not alone and that there are people in the world fighting for them,” he wrote.
Harte couldn’t be reached for comment.
If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732). Children and adult survivors of child sexual assault seeking support can contact Bravehearts on 1800 272 831. Always call triple-0 in an emergency or to report crime.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission