Following two exposés printed by The New Yorker and The New York Times about Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct with young actresses, allegations against other Hollywood heavyweights began to surface — including accusations against out actor Kevin Spacey.
The hashtag #MeToo, which has long been used by social activist Tarana Burke and popularized by actress Alyssa Milano, has fueled a wider exploration of sexual assault. Rose McGowan, who herself has accused Weinstein of rape and has spoken out against sexual abuse in Hollywood for years, has inspired numerous victims to come forward.
Now Sordid Lives star Jason Dottley (pictured below), who says Anthony Rapp’s accusations against Kevin Spacey inspired him to come out, is sharing his story with The Advocate after hiding his “shameful secret” for nearly 10 years.
Dottley alleges that renowned TV and music manager Benny Medina attempted to rape him at his Los Angeles mansion after meeting Dottley and his friend, fellow actor T. Ashanti Mozelle, at a bar in West Hollywood.
Medina's attorneys responded on Saturday, releasing a statement to The Advocate saying their client, "categorically denies the allegation of attempted rape."
Medina is best known for managing the careers of several A-list stars like Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, and Will Smith, as well as executive-producing the 1990s hit The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (based on his life), The Fosters, and Shades of Blue. His other credits include Maid in Manhattan, The Boy Next Door, and the upcoming production of NBC’s Bye Bye Birdie Live!
According to Dottley, he met Medina on the day the alleged incident occurred, around late December 2008, when he and Mozelle were at the Abbey in West Hollywood. Medina approached them and started making conversation, ultimately inviting them to his house.
At the time, Dottley was a recognizable face in LGBT circles, as he was starring starring in Sordid Lives: The Series on Logo TV. So when Medina, who at this time was an executive consultant on The Tyra Banks Show, invited the two actors over to his house, Dottley says they jumped at the opportunity to network.
Dottley says he assumed Medina was trying to “hook up” with Mozelle, so he tagged along assuming that eventually Medina and Mozelle would get together and Dottley would be available to give Mozelle a ride home. Dottley was married to TV writer and playwright Del Shores (Queer as Folk, Sordid Lives) at the time and wore his wedding ring openly.
“We all exchange numbers in case we got lost getting to his house, and he gave us his address,” Dottley tells The Advocate. “We drive up there and he welcomes us in and he says, ‘Do you want a tour of the house…?’ And we’re like, ‘Yes, please.’ He brings us out to his beautiful swimming pool … my friend [Mozelle] says, ‘I think I’m going to take a little dip,’ so he undresses down to his underwear. And I’m thinking to myself, He’s trying to get it, he’s trying to get it…”
Still assuming that Medina was eyeing Mozelle instead of him, Dottley says Medina led him into the living room, where he showed off photos of himself with numerous celebrities. Soon after, Dottley was led to a bedroom door.
“There was no ‘Do you want to see my bedroom?’ We literally got to the door and he grabbed me by the chest of my shirt and threw me onto his bed. Now I’m 6 foot tall and was 155 pounds, and this is a stocky strong man,” he says, then adds, “We all have these things playing in our heads of what would we ever do if someone ever tried to do something, and none of my preplanned motions would work.”
After throwing him on the bed, Medina “stuck his tongue down my mouth,” Dottley alleges. “Stop. I’m married. What are you doing?” he recalls asking while pointing to his wedding ring.
Dottley says that as he resisted, Medina became more aggressive. “I’m having you,” Medina allegedly demanded before placing his forearm over Dottley’s neck, pinning him to the mattress while forcefully placing his thighs over Dottley’s legs to keep them from squirming.
At this point, Dottley remembers, he started to cry and beg Medina to stop. But the mogul allegedly wouldn’t stop and kept repeating, “I’m having you! Oh, I will have you…”
“His forearm was bearing down on my neck so hard that I don’t know how much longer I would have remained conscious,” says Dottley. Throughout the ordeal Medina kept pulling on Dottley’s pants while continuing to pin him against the mattress, according to Dottley. He says he doesn’t have a clear memory of Medina successfully opening his pants or touching his genitals.
While it’s unclear how long the struggle lasted, it was long enough for Mozelle to get worried. “When I went to the pool ... Jason and Benny continued walking around the house,” Mozelle says. “It could have been intuition or whatever, but I randomly decided to get out of the pool to finish touring and I walked into [Medina’s] room, and he was on top of Jason.”
“[Mozelle] burst in the room and screamed something like, ‘Get off him!’ I don’t remember [exactly] what he said, but whatever he said worked,” Dottley tells The Advocate. “Benny Medina got off of me and grabbed me again by the chest of my shirt and threw me at — not to, but at — his bedroom door and all he said was ‘You two get the fuck out of here.’”
The two ran out of Medina’s home and hardly spoke about the incident on the way home. “[Dottley] was visibly shook,” Mozelle remembers. “I could see that he was shaken … whatever happened, it was enough to make him uncomfortable, and that was my main concern.”
A few days later, Medina reappeared, according to Dottley, when he sent a threatening text message.
“I get a text message as [Shores] and I were walking down Robertson Boulevard. ... I check it and it says something like: ‘Hey, I’m at The Ivy eating. Just saw you walking across the street. Is that the husband I have to have killed to have you?’”
At the time, Shores didn’t know the attempted rape took place, so Dottley had to secretly text Medina back to tell him he was a “disgusting, horrible person and to not ever text me again.”
Even now, Dottley says he has told very few people about the incident out of fear of retaliation. He admits he never told his ex-husband because he was scared Shores “would want to do something, and we both worked in TV and I was petrified because what proof do I have that this happened besides the fact that my friend saw it? And how does that even matter? What are we going to do? So I didn’t tell him.”
When The Advocate reached Shores for a comment, it was the first time he'd heard of the incident. "This is news to me," he says. "During our marriage and after our divorce, nothing was told to me about this incident."
One of the few people Dottley did confide in was his manager, Renee Bailey, who says she first heard of the incident when she signed Dottley in April 2016.
“I had asked him to provide me a list of anybody you don’t want to work with and who you really want to work with,” Bailey recounts saying to Dottley. “At that time he told me Benny Medina, and he was really adamant about it. He wanted to make sure he didn’t go into any castings or meetings. He didn’t want to be associated. When I asked him why, he said ‘because he attempted to rape me.’”
Bailey confirmed with The Advocate that her agency, the Bailey Agency, has had Medina’s name on Dottley’s “no work” list since the beginning of their relationship due to safety concerns.
Other friends Dottley chose to share his story with told The Advocate that even years after the incident occurred, it’s hard for him to share details.
Jeffery Morris, an actor and close friend of Dottley's, says, “We’ve talked about it several times, [but] not in express detail,” adding, “He [gets] very upset.”
Ben Lafleur, executive producer of Dottley’s one-man show Life on the Gay-List 2: All The Sordid Details, confirmed Dottley had shared the allegations, though he admits he still hasn’t heard explicit details.
“[Dottley] started talking about this high-level executive Benny Medina, and he said, ‘He sexually assaulted me,’” Lefleur recalls of the first time Dottley mentioned the incident to him. “He said it happened a while back and one of his friends intervened. And I could kind of tell when he was telling me [that] he was getting emotional and I didn’t want him to go into any details about it. I just kind of stopped him right there because he was getting emotional.”
“He took a part of me away that I didn’t even know I had, which is faith in humanity,” says Dottley, “because here’s a revered person that seemed so nice and at the end of the day he was using power to prey on young vulnerable looking guys and I happened to be his pick for that night. … You have to do this a lot to be confident enough that you can send a text like that, like, that’s not a first-timer,” adding, “I think because he produces a lot of television and has hands in tons of pies, that’s prevented more people from coming forward.”
“For the record, I don’t plan on suing for money,” he affirms. “What I want is the truth exposed about these people so that they cannot continue to prey on people like they do. Hopefully, if enough of us continue to speak out and name names, I would hope the next time one of these power predators will think long and hard before he attempts that on somebody else because he’ll always think, I wonder if this one’s going to talk too.”
Like the majority of sexual assault victims, Dottley says he chose not to go to the police after the incident “for the same reason I didn’t go public.” And he wouldn't be alone. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to law enforcement.
“I was emasculated, I was humiliated, and at that time, no one was coming forward and I was afraid if I went to the police or the press that Benny Medina was powerful enough to ruin both my career and my ex-husband’s,” Dottley said. “I also had stepchildren at the time and their safety came into question as well. … All of the tactics used by power predators worked on me because the end result was extreme fear of retaliation if I came forward in any way.” He adds, “[Medina] sexually assaulted and attempted to rape me while choking me. Add in a threatening text a few days later and hopefully anyone can understand just how scared of this man I was. I always thought I would be telling my autobiography long after he was dead. I found the strength through the other [victims] who’ve come before.”
Dottley says he and Medina have had zero contact since the day of the alleged text message, which Dottley says he no longer has saved in his phone.
The Advocate has made several attempts to reach Medina for comment about Dottley’s claims, with calls to the Medina Company on November 2, 3, and 8. Three messages were left on voice mail and one was left with a receptionist who answered the phone.
The Advocate also spoke directly to attorney David B. Feldman, who represented Medina on several occasions. Feldman had no comment on the matter but said he would pass along the information.
Additional calls were made to Medina's house and cell phone. A message was left on his voice mail, with no reply as of publication.
Medina's most famous client remains Lopez, who at one point in 2003 tried to distance herself from Medina by firing him, then filing a complaint with California’s labor commission, alleging he illegally contracted work on her behalf and misappropriated over $100,000. The two ended up working the matter out and eventually became partners again.
An employment lawsuit against Lopez by her former personal driver, Hakob Manoukian, claimed Medina humiliated him, continually bullied him for the way he dressed, and made fun of him for not speaking English well enough. Manoukian, who is from Iraq, was met with a counter-lawsuit from Lopez for $20 million, which was later dismissed by a Los Angeles judge in 2012. The driver's original suit ended in an out-of-court settlement in February 2013.
Since the 1980s, Medina has been a powerhouse in the TV and music industry. Medina helped to navigate the rising TV careers of Tyra Banks as well as Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’s lifestyle brand Sean John in the 2000s. At various points, Medina also managed Brandy and Usher, along with Carey, Lopez, and Smith.