Actress Greice Santo, who is best known for her recurring role in Jane the Virgin, is accusing hockey team owner and production studio financier Daryl Katz, a Canadian billionaire, of repeatedly soliciting her for sex with promises of money and movie deals.
Variety reports that the accusations have come out of defamation lawsuit filed by Santo’s husband, R.J. Cipriani on Monday, who claims that Katz has worked to discredit him as he attempted to develop a sexual relationship with Cipriani’s wife. Katz, in return, alleges that Santo and Cipriani have been attempting to extort $3 million dollars from him with false accusations about his behavior, but Cipriani says this spin is the work of G.F. Bunting & Co., a company that claims to deal with “crisis communications” or PR disasters.
Santa says she met Katz in 2015, when she was flown to Hawaii for a shoot. There she was introduced to Canadian executive Michael Gelmon, who in turn introduced him to his cousin, Daryl Katz.
“Katz said he could put me in a big role that would change my life and then switched the conversation and said he rather give me money,” Santo wrote in the papers filed on Monday. She says Katz went on to say, “I’m talking about millions… This would help your family and help you so you won’t struggle.”
When she asked what he wanted in exchange, Katz allegedly told her, “I’m looking for companionship and sex.”
“This is so common, but most girls and women — they are afraid of coming out,” Santo said in an interview with Variety, “I feel like me coming out will give courage and inspire so many girls who go through the same thing I go through.”
Santo continued to have a relationship with Katz via text, though she refused his offer. She agreed to meet him again if he was willing to keep the discussion to developing her movie career. He agreed, then wired her $20,000 before the meeting, a move Santo calls a “good faith gesture.” About 30 minutes into the meeting, Santo says Katz brought up sex again and she told him, “I am not a prostitute,” then left. A few months later he again set up a meeting, wired her $15,000, but she didn’t show. Santo recorded Gelman in an angry conversation afterwards in which he says Katz could make sure you don’t work in Hollywood ever again.”
Cipriani and Santo have tried to make Katz’s actions public, but say they suspect that Katz squashed these investigation with money and influence. Katz’s attorney Dennis Roach provided Variety with a statement on the case:
“Robert J. Cipriani is a convicted felon who has been menacing Mr. Katz and his family for more than a year. The allegations in the complaint filed against Mr. Bunting and his company, and the assertions made in that document about Mr. Katz, are false, malicious and entirely without merit. Moreover, it is plain as day that this so-called complaint was filed solely as bait for the media as part of an ongoing effort by Cipriani to harass, embarrass and possibly extort Mr. Katz, exactly as Cipriani has done with other prominent individuals. Variety has done its readers — and itself — a disservice by allowing its pages to be used in this manner.”
Cipriani works as a professional gambler and FBI informant and has been mixed up in some shady dealings in the past. Cipriani responded by saying, “The complaint speaks for itself. Conveniently Mr. Roach is attempting to divert from the real issue, that GF Bunting and his company have a history of enabling those who are complicit in aggressions towards women."