A woman has sued Jermaine Jackson, older brother of Michael Jackson and a member of the Jackson 5, alleging that the singer sexually assaulted her.
In the suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Rita Barrett claims that she knew Jackson through her husband’s friendship with Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. She alleges in the suit that, in 1988, “Defendant Jackson arrived at Plaintiff’s home unannounced. Defendant Jackson forced himself into Plaintiff’s home, and with force and violence sexually assaulted Plaintiff.”
Barrett also alleges in the suit that “Because of his relationships with both Defendant Jackson and Plaintiff’s family, Mr. Gordy was uniquely situated to both report Defendant Jackson’s acts and to aid Plaintiff during her time of trauma. Instead, Mr. Gordy withheld and concealed the acts, further perpetuating the coverup and allowing Mr. Gordy, Defendant Jackson, and others in the business relationship to continue to reap profits derived from Mr. Jackson’s work and reputation for years to come.”
Neither Jackson, 65, nor Gordy, 94, could be reached for comment.
The suit also names Jackson’s company, Jermaine L. Jackson Productions, and the label Work Records.
As a solo artist, Jackson has six top 20 Hot 100 hits in the 1970s and ‘80s, including the top 10 singles “Daddy’s Home” and “Let’s Get Serious.” He played bass and sang backup on such Jackson 5 classics as “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “I’ll Be There.”
Barrett filed her suit under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which allows civil suits in cases of sexual assault now beyond the statute of limitations, when “one or more entities are legally responsible for damages and the entity or their agents engaged in a cover up.” The act allows for suits to be filed through the end of 2023.
Several prominent artists and music executives, including the hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, label executive Antonio “L.A.” Reid, former Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler have been sued under a similar law passed in New York.