As more talent agencies find themselves drawn into the wave of Hollywood sex scandals, a prominent agent at Creative Artists Agency is facing accusations that he offered an actor sex in exchange for access to directors and a movie star.
The agent, Cade Hudson, made the offers in 2013, according to text messages reviewed by The Times, as well as interviews with the recipient of the messages, actor Sean Rose. The texts show that Hudson offered to perform oral sex on Rose and solicited the actor for as much as $1,000, even though he was told the actor was heterosexual.
Rose said he declined the offers and was "embarrassed and humiliated."
But he said he felt powerless to speak out and feared that doing so would result in professional reprisals. "Because he knew so many people in the industry, I felt there wasn't anything I could do about it," the actor said.
At the time of the incident, Hudson was a publicist at Full Picture, a marketing and brand management firm that has clients in fashion, entertainment and other fields. About a year later, he moved to CAA, where he is an agent for commercial endorsements. He has developed close relationships with numerous celebrities — including pop singer Britney Spears, one of the agency's most valued clients — and has served as CAA's public face at red-carpet and charity events.
In a statement released by his attorney, Hudson, 30, didn't directly address the text messages but said he is gay and was single at the time. He said he met Rose at his tailor several years ago and not as a result of his employment in the entertainment industry.
"After being my friend on social media for seven years, and liking my posts, Sean is now accusing me of soliciting a sex act from him," he stated. "My recollection is that he laughed it off and remained my friend on social media."
He added: "I have the utmost sympathy for victims of harassment and abuse, but this is no such case."
CAA said in a statement: "Cade was not employed at CAA at the time, and this is the first we are hearing of these accusations. We take allegations of misconduct seriously, and investigate them as appropriate."
Jed Ferdinand, an attorney for Full Picture, confirmed that Hudson worked for Full Picture for about five years and left in January 2014. The attorney said Full Picture has no comment about the accusations.
The claims against Hudson come amid a barrage of sex-related scandals that have overtaken the entertainment industry. William Morris Endeavor recently demoted and suspended Adam Venit, the head of its motion picture group, after former NFL player and actor Terry Crews accused the agent of groping his genitals.
Tyler Grasham, who worked for the Agency for the Performing Arts, was fired in October. He has been accused by multiple men of sexual harassment and assault.
Agents wield tremendous power by serving as the primary gatekeepers for Hollywood talent. But the Harvey Weinstein scandal has raised questions about whether they did enough to prevent sexual harassment in the industry.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that several CAA agents knew about Weinstein's misconduct but still sent actresses to meet him. The agency — which represents many of Hollywood's biggest stars — issued a statement saying, "we apologize to any person the agency let down for not meeting the high expectations we place on ourselves, as individuals and as a company."
Sexual misconduct allegations usually pit one party's word against the other's, but the accusations against CAA's Hudson revolve almost entirely around text messages that have been saved by Rose.
Rose said he agreed to come forward as it may help others speak out. He said he is adamant that artists need to be protected and that "enough is enough."
Rose said the incident occurred in April 2013 when he was invited to Hudson's house near West Hollywood past midnight to hang out. The actor said he agreed to meet only because he wanted to build his professional network in hopes of finding more acting work.
He said they had briefly met twice before in public — first when Hudson introduced himself as a publicist at a parking lot in Los Angeles a few years before. Later, they crossed paths at a hotel in Bel-Air, where Rose was working.
Rose said that Hudson mentioned several times his friends in the industry and at one point told the actor in a text that he should pursue modeling because "u have the look."
The actor said he brought a friend with him to Hudson's house that night. The friend has corroborated that he accompanied Rose and that Rose told him about the text messages after the meeting was over.
During the visit, Rose said Hudson spilled a drink on his pants. According to Rose, Hudson proceeded to wipe Rose's pants and put his hand on his inner thigh. Rose said he pushed Hudson's hand away.
Hudson said he has no recollection of spilling the drink on his lap. "If it happened, it was accidental. I did not and would not have touched Mr. Rose without his consent," he said in the statement.
Hudson later went into another room to fetch a pair of sweatpants and then began texting Rose, the actor said.
"I pay u 500 to have ur friend bounce," Hudson wrote, according text messages reviewed by The Times. The Times verified that the phone number associated with the text messages belongs to the agent.
"LOL I g2g [got to go] soon," the actor texted back.
Hudson offered more money. "1k stay," he texted, later adding, "I know ur straight Getting [oral sex] isn't gay. U. Know. That." He also texted: "All u gotta do is sick [sit] back relax..."
His texts became more aggressive. "If BJ happens tn [tonight] ill make sure u meet her tomorrow."
Rose said that Hudson was referring to actress Amanda Seyfried, who is a friend of the agent.
Hudson later texted: "Ill have u meet with any director this week that I can"
Rose tried to get out of the awkward situation. "Dude friends, " he texted back to Hudson. "I'm not that desperate to make it."
The actor and his friend eventually left Hudson's house without further incident. A few days later, they exchanged more text messages, with Hudson asking if Rose would be interested in three-way sex. Rose said he wasn't interested and that he only has sex with women, according to a text.
During his short time at CAA, Hudson has built an impressive roster of celebrity clients and friends. As a commercials agent, he is responsible for finding clients lucrative endorsement deals and has represented Spears and stars including Sean Penn, Amber Valletta, Demi Lovato and Zac Efron.
This year, his 30th birthday bash was covered by celebrity publications including TMZ, and was attended by many of his A-list clients. The TMZ headline described him as "Hollywood's most popular agent."
At CAA, Hudson is known for his ties to celebrities and has been photographed hanging out with Paris Hilton. In April, he served as an honorary co-chair of the World of Children Hero Awards, a celebrity gala event benefiting the children's charity that was co-sponsored by CAA.
Rose said he recently spoke with Hudson by phone and text in light of all of the sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood.
"I said I wasn't comfortable with what happened years ago," Rose said. "He said he was drunk and that he's sober now."
Rose said he wanted to meet in person and Hudson suggested the Polo Lounge. The actor suggested another location and they agreed. But he said Hudson ultimately canceled.
The actor said he was then surprised to receive an email letter from the agent's attorney in late November.