'Global Hero' in Film Hit With Sexual Assault Claim

Tenoch Huerta drops out of film to focus on 'restoring my reputation'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2023 11:54 AM CDT
'Global Hero' in Film Hit With Sexual Assault Claim
Tenoch Huerta poses for a portrait on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever actor Tenoch Huerta has dropped out of an upcoming Netflix film to focus on "restoring my reputation" following an accusation of sexual assault. Saxophonist María Elena Ríos described Huerta as "an abuser, manipulator and sexual predator" in recent tweets and accused Poder Prieto, a group working to combat racism in the film industry, of protecting the actor, who serves as its spokesperson. She said people refuse to believe that a person with as much power as Huerta could be an abuser, per the Los Angeles Times. The actor has been "heralded for furthering the spectrum of representation available onscreen for dark-skinned Indigenous people," per the AV Club. The AP called him "a global hero" in naming him one of its Breakthrough Entertainers for 2022.

In a June 12 statement, Huerta described Rios' allegations as "simply untrue," per AV Club. He said he "dated Elena for several months" a year ago and theirs was "a loving, warm and mutually supportive relationship"—"entirely consensual at all times, as countless others can attest." "After it ended, however, Elena began to misrepresent our interactions both privately and in front of groups of mutual friends." In response, the actor said he "engaged a legal team to commence the appropriate actions to protect my reputation and refute these irresponsible and false accusations that can cause great prejudice and damage."

Rios responded a week ago. "The fact that it was a consensual relationship in the beginning, does not determine that everything will continue to be so at all times because removing a condom without warning, IS A CRIME, it's sexual assault and it's known as stealthing," she said, per the Times. In his response, Huerta said damage caused by the false claims gave him "no choice but to withdraw" from the film Fiesta en la Madriguera, which was to begin filming June 15, per Deadline. "I cannot allow her actions to harm not only me, but also the work of dozens of talented and hard-working people involved in the project," Huerta said, adding "my focus now is simple: continue the process of restoring my reputation." (More sexual assault allegations stories.)

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