Attorney claims Mario Vazquez' 'Idol 4' departure was "not voluntary"
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/15/2007
An attorney for Magdaleno Olmos -- a former assistant production accountant who filed a lawsuit accusing American Idol 4 hopeful Mario Vazquez of sexual harassment and alleging Idol fired him once he reported it -- says that despite Vazquez' public comments claiming otherwise, he believes Vazquez did not willingly choose to withdraw from the reality show's fourth season.
"I believe [Vazquez' departure] was not voluntary in any way shape or form," Olmos' attorney Matt Matern toldAccess Hollywood on Wednesday. "There were meetings held on that same day with [Idol] executives Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, with my client and with the attorneys for American Idol."
In the lawsuit, which was filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court, Olmos claims Vazquez followed him into a bathroom and began to masturbate. The lawsuit further claims that despite Olmos attempting to stop Vazquez, the Idol 4 hopeful persisted, and the incident allegedly ended with Vazquez asking Olmos "if he wanted oral sex." When Olmos first reported the incident to Idol producers, Matern said they seemed to offer his client support.
"They asked my client what had happened," Matern told Access Hollywood. "Then I believe they interviewed Mr. Vazquez that same day, brought my client back in for a second interview and [I'm told], Nigel Lythgoe, put his arm around my client and said, 'We know that this happened and we are going to let Mario Vazquez go, and you're going to stay.'"
Leave Vazquez did, but he claimed it was due to "personal reasons" and continued "[It] has nothing to do with my family, nothing to do with me being sick, nothing like that. Basically there will be lots of hearsay on certain things." With Vazquez gone, Matern said Olmos asked to see a psychologist.
"The companies offered him to go see a psychologist, but then never actually referred him to anybody," Olmos' attorney told Access Hollywood. "The only person they said he could go see was the psychologist that had previously seen Mario Vazquez. Obviously my client didn't want to go see someone who Mr. Vazquez was seeing."
When Matern said Olmos told an Idol supervisor he was going to see a doctor, the supervisor told him he "was not excused to go see this doctor" and was subsequently fired.
"We believe that the only reason that he was terminated was because he complained about being sexually harassed and his supervisors and the American Idol people didn't want him there," Matern told Access Hollywood.
California has a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful termination lawsuits, and Olmos' suit just meets that deadline.
"Initially, the Fremantle and American Idol attorneys said, 'Well you need to go after Mr. Vazquez, he is the wrongdoer.' And then when that line of attack didn't work, then they tried to say, 'Well, actually this was a consensual relationship between Mr. Olmos and Mr. Vazquez,' and therefore they're not liable for anything that happened between my client and Mr. Vazquez because it was consensual," Matern told Access Hollywood. "Obviously, those two statements are contradictory."
This contradiction led to a breakdown in settlement talks, according to Matern, prompting the lawsuit.
"Mr. Olmos immediately complained about this conduct and sought representation. We tried to resolve this case informally with American Idol and Fremantle and Fox, but they refused to engage in meaningful settlement discussions and so we now had to file a lawsuit," Matern told Access Hollywood.
Fox released a statement to Access Hollywood on Tuesday saying, "We haven't been served but we wouldn't comment on pending litigation." Access Hollywood reported calls made to Vazquez' attorney have not been returned.