Former Disney and X-Factor US star Ricky Garcia is suing his former manager for alleged rape, according to reports by TMZ and DailyMail.com.
The actor and singer found fame after he was chosen by Simon Cowell to form a boyband on the talent show, but the 20-year-old has accused Joby Harte of sexual assault and rape from the age of 12 onwards.
In documents filed by attorney Ben Meiselas of Geragos and Geragos, Garcia claims that Harte and his company Hot Rock Media used the ‘well-worn paedophile playbook of grooming and seduction’ to consistently get him ‘black out drunk’ only for Ricky to wake up in the morning beside him naked.
"Defendant Harte, the ringleader, employed the well-worn paedophile 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 defences and give him unfettered access to her son, making her an unwitting accomplice to his depravity," the documents reportedly state.
Garcia starred in Disney’s Best Friends Whenever, also alleges that Harte groomed him into a ‘sexual plaything that could be passed around his friends in the business’, including producer Nils Larsen. The claims have been categorically denied by Larsen and ex-APA agent Tyler Grasham in the ‘malicious prosecution’,
Garcia is suing Harte, Grasham, Larsen, Hot Rock Media, Cohen/Thomas Management and its partners Sheri Andersen Thomas and Paul Cohen, as well as APA. On Harte's Wikipedia page, it states that he helped to lanch ITV show Pop Idol and worked on Strictly Come Dancing.
Ricky wrote to his Instagram to tell fans that "today was one of the most difficult days of my life";
"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 this world fighting for them.
"So please if anyone is out there right now going through something even remotely similar to what I went through, please, we all need to speak out about this – yes of course I want justice for the POS that manipulated me, but more importantly this is about saving anyone else who feels like they don’t have a voice," the actor continued.
"YOU are not alone. This can happen to anyone you know. It’s just a matter of talking about this to people and letting your close ones know that it’s not okay."
He concluded the post; "So if anyone knows anyone else that’s going through this s**t as well. It’s so important to speak up for them."
Ricky auditioned for The X Factor US season three when he was just 14-years-old, before being eliminated during the boot camp round.
Simon Cowell asked him to return along with Emery Kelly and Jon Klaasen to form a trio called Forever in Your Mind. They were cut before the final 16 but were later signed to Hollywood Records.
Tyler Grasham was fired from APA in October 2017 amid sexual harassment and assault allegations from Blaise Godbe Lipman, Lucas Ozarowski and Jordan Gavaris.
Feature image: Instagram/@realrickygarcia