ICM Partners has launched a formal investigation into claims that several of its talent agents discouraged a client from reporting instances of sexual harassment at Fox News.
ICM, a top Hollywood talent agency home to Ellen DeGeneres and showrunners Shonda Rhimes and Vince Gilligan, has hired Latham & Watkins litigator Marvin Putnam to investigate the claims, which first surfaced in a New York Times article in March and were detailed Tuesday in a Huffington Post column.
The client is ex-contributor Tamara Holder, who settled a sexual assault claim with the network in March for a reported $2.5 million. Holder says she told her ICM agents Steve Levin, Matt Sorger and Will Horowitz that Francisco Cortes, then vice president of Fox News Latino, tried to force her to perform oral sex on him, and the agents discouraged her from reporting it to Fox, according to the report.
"I believed that my agents' job was not only to help me find work but also to protect me," Holder told HuffPost. "Instead, they told me my career was going to be over if I disclosed my abuse to my employer, slammed the door in my face when I went against their advice to remain silent, and intentionally refused to assist my lawyers." The report also produced emails between Holder and her agents backing up her claim.
"ICM Partners has a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment," the agency said in a statement. "We will thoroughly investigate this inquiry."
An ICM source tells The Hollywood Reporter that Putnam, a litigator who has represented the Sundance Film Festival and live-events giant AEG, has been hired to look into Holder's allegations.
Holder is one of what seems like an ever-increasing number of women to allege sexual assault or harassment at the hands of men employed by Fox News. The network hired Paul Weiss last summer to conduct its own internal investigation, but ICM is the first outside company to launch a probe into how its employees may have contributed to what has been repeatedly painted as a company-wide epidemic.