2-21-18 5:34 PM EST | Email Article
   By Robbie Whelan 

MEXICO CITY--In one of the first signs that the #MeToo movement has reached Latin America, Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa SAB has cut ties with a prominent film director after Karla Souza, one of Mexico's most popular actresses, alleged she was the victim of a sexual assault.

Televisa said Wednesday that after the public accusations made by Ms. Souza and after a preliminary investigation, it has decided to break all relations with Gustavo Loza.

Mr. Loza, a writer and director of several popular films and TV series in Mexico, owns Adicta Films, a production company that has frequently partnered with Televisa, the world´s largest producer of television programming in Spanish. Mr. Loza has denied any wrongdoing.

In an interview aired on CNN´s Spanish news channel on Monday, Ms. Souza described an instance early in her career in which she alleges she was assaulted by a director while on a monthlong shoot. She didn't disclose the name of the director.

Ms. Souza said that she was housed apart from the other actors in a separate hotel where just she and the director were staying, and that he would frequently come to her room at 2 a.m. to work on certain scenes. If she chose not to open the door to this director, Ms. Souza said, the next day he would refuse to film her scenes and berate her in front of other cast members.

"This was how he exercised psychological control over me," Ms. Souza said. "I had recently started my career, and the producers started to present this manipulation of, 'You owe me something. Because you don't have a name, you have to show me something.'"

The nightly visits escalated, Ms. Souza said, to the point that the director allegedly began to kiss her and touch her without consent, and one night, "he attacked me violently, and yes, he raped me."

Mr. Loza couldn't be immediately reached for comment, but on Twitter, he denied Ms. Souza's accusations and criticized Televisa and news reporters who he said had reported the case "without basis."

"I totally deny the accusation against me," Mr. Loza wrote. In a statement released later in the day, Mr. Loza said he was close friends with Ms. Souza and urged her to publicly name her assailant and bring formal criminal charges against him. In an interview with a local newspaper published Wednesday, he said that he had had an affair with Ms. Souza but that it was consensual. Ms. Souza couldn´t be immediately reached for comment.

Televisa said it would also cancel any project under way that involves the participation of Mr. Loza. Mario San Martín, a Televisa spokesman, declined to comment further. In Mexico, Televisa controls about 70% of the television market.

One of Ms. Souza's first starring roles was in "Heroes of the North," a romantic comedy series created by Mr. Loza and co-produced by his company and Televisa. The series was shot over the course of five weeks in small towns and first aired in 2010.

Ms. Souza would go on to star in 2013's "The Noble Family," a satire of Mexico's ruling class that became one of the highest-grossing Mexican-made films ever, and "Everybody Loves Somebody," a romantic comedy set in Los Angeles and Mexico about a gynecologist who struggles to get her love life in order.

Ms. Souza currently lives in Los Angeles and recently finished filming season four of "How to Get Away With Murder," a popular drama series on ABC that has served as her breakout role in Hollywood.

In 2016, Ms. Souza collaborated with Mr. Loza again on the film "Don't Blame the Kid," a comedy about a woman, played by Ms. Souza, who becomes pregnant after a one-night stand.

Televisa currently airs a comedy series called "40 and 20" about a divorced father who is romantically interested in younger women while his younger son is interested in older women, which was written and directed by Mr. Loza and produced by his company. Mr. San Martín said he didn't know whether that series would be canceled.

Televisa has faced criticism in recent years for its handling of sexual harassment accusations. In 2015, a male host of the program "ATM" in the border city of Ciudad Juarez attempted to lift the skirt and touched the breast of his female co-host on live television.

Afterwards, the female host, Tania Reza, said that the network had pressured her to record a video claiming that the on-air harassment had actually been a hoax and that the incident was her fault, so that the company could "wash its hands" of the incident. Televisa didn't immediately respond to a request to comment on the case.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 21, 2018 17:34 ET (22:34 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Add a Comment

Try Premium Membership today. Your first 14 days are free of charge. Start my Premium Membership Trial.
Sponsored Links
Buy a Link Now
Sponsor Center
Content Partners