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Sexual Harassment, Misconduct, and Allegations in the Music Industry

The topic we can’t stop talking about. Everywhere we look, read, scroll, allegations and verdicts are bursting into the media. Although sexual misconduct has always been around, it seems  the social media sharing of the #metoo hashtag has allowed brave people everywhere to share their tragic stories. I couldn’t believe how many of my friends and family members posted. I watched how news stories day after day flooded my newsfeed, accusations and confirmed accounts of abuse were finally being talked about. Some were happening now and others had years and even decades pass before the victim spoke up. Most people who have experienced this type of abuse chalk it up to “just a joke” or “what is anyone going to do about it”, “it wasn’t that bad”, “ who do I tell”, “ It was my fault, I shouldn’t have… insert illogical reason”

The problem is a lot of people don’t know how to determine when a line has been drawn. We have insecurities of not being liked or losing a position at work or even a friendship. Until now we remained quiet, we never thought that we should or could say something if we were not touched. Sexual abuse can come at you in all channels; physical, written, and spoken.

Through our research is seems as if sexual abuse in the music industry is as prevalent as ever and yet there have been few public namings. I truly believe this has to do with the Kesha vs. Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald case in 2014. In this specific case, New York judge sided with Sony Music when Kesha came forward with allegations of abuse by her producer Gottwald. The judge stated that Kesha did not have enough evidence, did not report the abuse in a timely manner, and needed to uphold her contract with Sony. More details on this case are below but so many people were devastated at the fact that she came forward and was basically forced to continue to record for Sony.

Here is a look at some cases that have been in the public eye.

Russel Simmons

Hometown: Queens, New York City, New York

Career: Music Producer – Def Jam Recordings      


Number of Accusations: 2

On November 4, 2017 Simmons was accused by Jenny Lumet who stated Simmons offered to drive her home after dinner then proceeded to take her to his apartment even after she begged ot be taken home. In Simmon’s apartment, he forced her to have intercourse and was very physical in his wants. The story reported by Lumet is so similar to model Keri Claussen Khalighi. Both instances occurred in 1991 and were finally reported this year.

The Outcome: There have been no court filings as of December 4, 2017, but Russell Simmons has removed himself  from all of the operations of his companies with no anticipated return date.

Kirt Webster

Hometown:  N/A   

Career: Publicist 

Age: N/A

Number of Accusations: 22

Allegations from both men and women have been pouring in recently. Webster has been accused of physical abuse, asking employees to watch pornographic videos, strip, asking for sex, drugging, commenting on sexual orientation among other horrible acts. With reports of abuse in the high twenties, there is no telling how many more people have kept quiet. It seems as if anyone in Webster’s path was in some way drawn into his abusive sexual desires.

The Outcome: Webster has shut down his music businesses and has refused to comment on any allegations. Some of the 22 victims have pulled together to raise money to bring this case to court. No court date has been set.

Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald

Hometown:  Providence, Rhode Island

Career: Producer – Sony Music     

Age: 44

Number of Accusations: 1

In 2014 Kesha filed a lawsuit against Gottwald stating multiple charges against the producer sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, civil harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent retention and supervision. Kesha also stated that Gottwald drugged and raped her and even pressured her to into an eating disorder.

The Outcome: On April 6, 2016, New York Judge Shirley Kornreich ruled against Kesha’s claims saying it was outside the statue of limitations. Kesha had to remain at Sony under a different producer.

Jesse Lacey

Hometown: Long Island, New York

Career: Musician – Brand New   


Number of Accusations: 2

Two women have come forward stating they were asked for nude photos when they were underage. Both women felt Lacey used his fame to coerce and prey on teenage girls. The photos Lacey had kept were used to control the ladies for years. Lacey has also skyped with the women while masturbating. The youngest victim was 15 at the time of her first experience with Lacey, the abuse continued into her early 20’s.

The Outcome: The band Brand New has cancelled it’s European tour and Lacey has issued an apology via Facebook. The women have reached out to media outlets as well as shared their stories on social media.

Sean Carlson

Hometown: Torrance, California

Career: Promoter- FYF (Fuck Yeah Festival)     


Number of Accusations: 4

Four women have come forward with incidents that have allegedly taken place between 2010 and 2015. The women claim that they were sexually assaulted by force by the promoter. It was known that Carlson used his connections in the industry to get in to VIP parties and events where his lewd behavior was often pushed away and Carlson would get forceful. The women in this case have come forward to the media

The Outcome: Carlson issued a lengthy statement discussing each of the incidents stating which details were true and not true based on his own recollection of the events. He apologized for his behavior and stated he was making changes in his life. Golden Voice, the promoters of Coachella have cut ties with Carlson and have not commented on the split.

Twiggy Ramirez

Hometown: Coral Springs, FL

Career: Musician – Marilyn Manson

Age: 46

Number of Accusations: 1

Ramirez has been accused by former girlfriend Jessicka Addams of rape during their relationship in the early 90’s. Addams claims Ramirez violently raped her when they would see each other and would scream for help during the attacks. She went to social media just recently opening up about the incidents. Addams was told by her record label at the time that if she revealed her story she would be ridiculed and possibly banned by promoters or venues.

The Outcome: Marilyn Manson has removed Ramirez from their band and upcoming tour. Manson spoke about this matter via social media but has made no further comments. Ramirez has not commented.

Nick Carter

Hometown: Jamestown, NY

Career: Singer- Backstreet Boys

Age: 37

Number of Accusations: 1

Melissa Schumer has come forward accusing Backstreet Boy Nick Carter of raping her when she was 18 and he was 21. Schumer claims Carter undressed her in his home event though she asked him to stop. She claims she was a virgin and was saving herself, Carter did not stop. Schumer only remained in music briefly after the incident, she recorded a song with Carter after the incident and then left music.

The Outcome: Carter released a statement showing sympathy and that he felt the relationship was consensual. Schumer remarked that Carter tried to contact her several times after she released the statement but has not spoken to the singer.

Gaslamp Killer

Hometown: San Diego, California

Career: DJ – Producer

Age: 35

Number of Accusations: 2

Two women who are withholding their names has accused the Gaslamp Killer of drugging and raping them at a LA party at the Standard Hotel in 2015. Both women said that the DJ handed them drinks and had non-consensual sex with them. They claim they could not move or speak and experienced flu like symptoms the following day. Both women posted their story to social media accounts under the names Chelsea and RaeAn. They both confessed they needed to be free from this horrible experience.

The Outcome:  The ladies have not revealed themselves and are not sure whether they will file charges.

Heathcliff Berru

Hometown: N/A

Career: Publicist – Life or Death PR 

Age: 31

Number of Accusations: Multiple via social media and most famously Amber Coffman

Amber Coffman, like many women decided to share her story through social media and was later approached by many news outlets asking for more details on the incident with Berru. Do to Berru’s powerful influence in the music industry it took years before Coffman and other women who then commented on her post to come forward. Many women had the same feeling that no one would believe them or that they were not “big enough” to take on the major PR company’s CEO. As of today no legal filings have been started.

The Outcome: Berru has resigned from his company Life or Death PR as CEO. In an interview about the allegations Berru commented he was addicted to drugs and alcohol which caused his incredibly erratic and abusive behavior.

James Levine

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Career: Conductor, Pianist – Metropolitan Orchestra     

Age: 74                                                                       

Number of Accusations: 3 as of now, dating back to the 1960

Levine has been accused by multiple people of sexual misconduct decades ago when the men were teenagers. The MET has hired it’s own lawyer to aid the the investigation of Levine supposed transgressions. Although many speculated Levine’s behavior throughout the years his notareity and talent continued to outshine his devious side. While the men in this case have fully come forward we anticipate more men to share there stories in the coming weeks. It seems Levine spent years abusing his students, masturbating them, showering them with gifts and money then asking them to return the favor.

The Outcome: The Metropolitan Opera has severed ties with Levine. The victims are pressing for a trial.