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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Ben Beaumont-Thomas

Music mogul Jimmy Iovine accused of sexual abuse and harassment

Jimmy Iovine pictured in November 2022.
Jimmy Iovine pictured in November 2022. Photograph: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Interscope Records and of the headphone brand Beats, has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment by an unnamed woman.

Iovine was served a summons ahead of a lawsuit being filed against him. The New York court document contains allegations that the woman “suffered as a result of being sexually abused, forcibly touched, and subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of anti-discrimination laws in or around August 2007”. She is seeking compensation via damages.

A spokesperson for Iovine told Variety: “We are quite shocked and baffled by this alleged claim. This inquiry is the first we’ve heard of this matter. No one has ever made a claim like this against Jimmy Iovine, nor have we been contacted or made aware of any complaint by anyone, including this unknown plaintiff prior to now.”

Iovine has 20 days to respond to the summons, or 30 if the summons isn’t delivered to him in person.

Iovine, 70, is one of the most high-profile producers and moguls in the US music industry. He worked as an engineer on albums such as Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run in the mid-70s, rising to a producer role and helming albums by Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks and others. He founded Interscope in 1990 and it became home to key figures in the era’s gangsta rap scene, including Tupac Shakur, as well as the multi-platinum selling No Doubt.

Interscope grew further as it merged with Geffen and A&M, and nurtured labels such as Death Row and Aftermath, the latter with Dr Dre who became co-founder with Iovine of Beats Electronics. The headphones company was later bought out by Apple for $3.2bn in 2014, still Apple’s largest ever company acquisition.

The allegations against Iovine have been made in the wake of New York state’s Adult Survivors Act, passed in 2022. It gives alleged victims of sexual assault a one-year window to file lawsuits against their perpetrators even if the incident happened earlier than the statute of limitations legally allows for such complaints. “It takes time to come forward, particularly when faced with the trauma that accompanies disclosures,” said state senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins on passing the act. “With the Adult Survivors Act, we are saying that we believe you and that you deserve accountability.”

That window is due to close on Friday, and there has been a flurry of similar lawsuits filed against prominent figures in the music industry in recent days.

Axl Rose was accused of violent sexual assault dating to 1989 by model Sheila Kennedy, who alleges he physically assaulted and forcibly penetrated her. He denies the allegations, his lawyer saying: “Mr Rose has no recollection of ever meeting or speaking to the plaintiff, and has never heard about these fictional allegations prior to today.”

Sean Combs, the rapper and mogul known as P Diddy, was accused of “abuse, violence, and sex trafficking” by musician and former girlfriend Casandra Ventura, AKA Cassie. He denied the allegations and the lawsuit was settled for undisclosed terms the following day.

Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, former Grammys chief executive Neil Portnow, late Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun and producer LA Reid are among those who have also recently had sexual misconduct lawsuits filed against them.

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