Jimmie Allen has been removed from Delaware State University’s 2023 commencement ceremony, Rolling Stone has confirmed. The country-music star and Delaware native was ousted from Friday’s undergraduate ceremony following allegations of sexual assault. Allen, who attended the university from 2004 to 2006, was also slated to be nominated for an honorary degree by the university’s president Tony Allen, no relation to the singer. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester will now give the address.
According to a statement from Delaware State University, officials were “notified by Jimmie Allen, the scheduled keynote speaker for its 8 a.m., May 12 Undergraduate Commencement, that he will be unable to participate in the ceremony. The University respects Mr. Allen’s decision and is grateful that Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester has agreed to address the graduates.”
In a story first reported Thursday by Variety, Allen is the subject of a lawsuit brought against him and his former management company by a Jane Doe plaintiff, Allen’s onetime day-to-day manager. The suit accuses Allen of assault and sexual abuse over a period of 18 months. In one allegation, Allen allegedly raped the plaintiff “while choking her” and “videotaped multiple sexual encounters in order to blackmail her to stay silent.” The suit also alleges he pressured the plaintiff to take a Plan B pill the morning after a dinner with Allen and others. “Disoriented and confused, Plaintiff was bleeding vaginally,” reads the suit, obtained by Rolling Stone. “Plaintiff felt mortified and humiliated. She realized she had lost her virginity through no choice of her own and felt she had betrayed her faith.”
Allen and his wife, married since 2020, separated last month. They have two children and are expecting a third.
In a statement sent to Rolling Stone by his lawyer, Allen denied the allegations: “It is deeply troubling and hurtful that someone I counted as one of my closest friends, colleagues and confidants would make allegations that have no truth to them whatsoever. I acknowledge that we had a sexual relationship — one that lasted for nearly two years,” he said. “During that time she never once accused me of any wrongdoing, and she spoke of our relationship and friendship as being something she wanted to continue indefinitely. Only after things ended between us, did she hire a lawyer to reach out and ask for money, which leads me to question her motives. The simple fact is, her accusations are not only false, but also extremely damaging. I’ve worked incredibly hard to build my career, and I intend to mount a vigorous defense to her claims and take all other legal action necessary to protect my reputation.”
Allen is the 2021 ACM Awards winner for New Male Artist of the Year and the CMA Awards’ 2021 New Artist of the Year. He was also nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist.
Following news of the lawsuit against Allen, CMA Fest, the annual country music festival in Nashville, dropped him from its 2023 lineup.