21 May 2009

Canadian Beauty Queen is Sexually Abused

sexual,abused,miss canada,miss british columbia,miss canada universe,Claire Robinson,beauty pageant,beauty queenFormer beauty queen files suit against agency, its vice-president and other men, claiming she was groped and more seriously abused

A former B.C. beauty queen has filed a class-action lawsuit against a top Hollywood talent firm and several men, alleging a "criminal conspiracy" to sexually assault and exploit young aspiring models and actresses.

Claire Robinson, 23, who was named Miss British Columbia in 2004 and was a top-15 finalist in the Miss Universe Canada pageant, is the plaintiff in a suit filed in Los Angeles Tuesday against talent firm International Creative Management, Jack Gilardi, a vice-president at the agency, and other named and unnamed men.

Ms. Robinson, 23, alleges she was one of many women to be "hip-pocketed" by Mr. Gilardi and his associates. The phrase "hip-pocketed" is used when a veteran male talent agent agrees to represent a young model or actress but never formally signs her or secures any legitimate auditions.

"Once the girls believed they were ICM clients, the co-conspirators sexually exploited the 'hip-pocketed' actresses," alleges the claim, obtained by celebrity website TMZ.com.

Ms. Robinson said she attended a number of "auditions," at which she was asked to pose sexually for casting agents to be considered for roles that either didn't exist or were already filled. On a number of occasions, she claims, she was sexually assaulted.

"The girl, of course, was thrilled thinking that she was being represented by ICM, but it was just this whole sham arrangement," Ms. Robinson's lawyer, Perry Wander, alleged in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

ICM denied the claims Tuesday night.

"Ms. Robinson's allegations are completely baseless. ICM denies any and all wrongdoing and will vigorously defend this action," the company said.

Ms. Robinson alleges that Mr. Gilardi, 79, groped her. She alleges she was sexually assaulted more severely by his associates. She believes she is one of many victims, and filed the class-action suit on behalf of any other young models or actresses who were hip-pocketed by ICM.

"We're taking the position that this hip-pocketing of actresses and sexually exploiting them, that's been a criminal enterprise that's been going on for about 20 years," Mr. Wander said.

The suit is filed under a U.S. racketeering law designed for prosecuting the mafia, and allows civil suits for acts committed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

It's seeking $10-million in punitive damages — 10 per cent of ICM's last reported annual earnings, chosen as an "ironic twist" because it's the same percentage the firm is said to take as a cut from its clients' pay, Mr. Wander said.

Ms. Robinson is in Vancouver with her family, Mr. Wander said. Her career included work around the world and credits with DKNY, Betsey Johnson, and Salvatore Ferragamo. She returned to Vancouver last year after the most serious of attacks, and has undergone counselling.