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October 22, 2017

'Stranger Things' child star fires agent over former client's sex abuse claim

With less than a week to go before Netflix premieres the much-anticipated second season of "Stranger Things," one of the sci-fi sensation's biggest stars is ditching his agent over past claims of sexual abuse.

Finn Wolfhard, the 14-year-old actor who appeared most recently in "It," cut ties with agent Tyler Grasham late last week, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Grasham, a talent agent at the reputed multi-city APA, was placed on leave as the agency conducts an internal investigation into allegations from actor-turned-filmmaker Blaise Godbe Lipman.

Earlier this month, Lipman posted his contribution to the viral #MeToo campaign that reemerged in the wake of the torrent of sexual harassment allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Lipman, who appeared in "Weeds," "CSI" and "Hawaii 5-0," told THR the alleged abuse occurred in 2007, when the actor was 17 years old. Grasham, who is openly gay, allegedly forced himself on Lipman at his Los Angeles apartment. Lipman, also openly gay, was not out at the time of the alleged incident.

"Tyler Grasham, under the pretense of a business meeting regarding potential agency representation at APA Agency, fed me alcohol while I was underage and sexually assaulted me," Lipman said in a follow-up Facebook post. "APA Agency has kept this man employed, working with kid actors. I find it incredibly difficult to believe they do not know of his predatory behavior, using his position within the company to prey on naive kids."

Lipman said Grasham, despite no current connection on social media, "poked" him on Facebook after his first anonymous post about the alleged abuse. The disturbing gesture convinced him to reveal Grasham's name.

"Was his poke passive aggressive? An abuser making himself known, a quiet threat? An admission of guilt with a smirky, 'just try me?'" Lipman wondered. "I don't know and I don't care. It felt gross."

In the days after Lipman's allegations, several other former Grasham clients came forward with similar claims, according to THR.

"APA takes these allegations extremely seriously and is investigating this matter," an agency spokesperson told the website. 

Wolfhard reportedly has not yet secured new representation.

In a separate Facebook post this weekend, Lipman called it an "undeniable fact" that the film industry willfully "protects its own" from damaging exposure, adding that the issue of sexual blackmail doesn't just impact aspiring actresses.

"It’s only when these incidents are made public, outside of the system that protects itself, that these predators see repercussions," Lipman wrote. "I want to specifically highlight the frequency in which these scenarios play out among young actors and representation, and more specifically within the cross section of the entertainment industry and the gay community."