Attorneys representing one of several sexual assault victims of talent agent Wallace Kaye — sentenced to more than five years in prison last month — have demanded that the Screen Actors Guild change its disclosure policies regarding complaints of this nature.
In a six-page letter sent this week to SAG prexy Barry Gordon, attorneys for Charmaine Blakely threaten to sue the union unless officials make a number of policy changes specifically to alert members to problems with agents.
“Right now, when an actor or actress contacts the guild for more information about its franchised agents, SAG won’t tell them whether or not an agent’s file contains complaints — including sexual harassment complaints — about that person,” Blakely said.
SAG’s policy is that when members call to complain about an agent, they have to give their name and be willing to file a complaint in order for the union to help them pursue it with the appropriate government agency.
SAG officials contend that there had been complaints against Kaye but that the complainants had asked that their names not be used.
While Gordon had not seen the letter as of Thursday, SAG spokesperson Mark Locher said the union has been reviewing its policies.
“We have been reviewing our procedures with our attorneys because of all the concern in this area,” he said. “We feel we’ve been acting properly and legally, but because it is a serious problem, we will carefully consider the suggestions from this and other members.”
Blakely’s attorneys have given the union until Aug. 3 to respond.
“We really don’t want to sue them,” said attorney Wayne W. Smith of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. “But if we do sue, it will only be to demand a policy change.”
Blakely wants SAG to create a public log that actors can check to find whether complaints have been filed against an agent. She believes that SAG policy should allow for disclosure in certain cases, including complaints about sexual harassment or physical abuse.
She says she filed a complaint with SAG against Kaye after she was accosted, and that she only learned of other similar complaints when the case went to trial.
“SAG failed to take adequate steps to investigate any of these allegations or to protect Mr. Kaye’s victims,” said Smith. “Despite numerous complaints against Mr. Kaye, the Kaye Talent Agency continued to hold a SAG franchise until after he was arrested on Oct. 7, 1991.”