A woman has accused Jermaine Jackson, a founding member of the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson’s older brother, of sexually assaulting her in 1988, according to a new lawsuit obtained by Rolling Stone.
In the brief suit, filed in Los Angeles on Wednesday, the plaintiff Rita Barrett alleges that Jackson assaulted her in her home over three decades ago after showing up to her house unannounced. Barrett claims in the suit that she met Jackson through her work as a music contractor, as well as through Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, alleging that she maintained close ties with Gordy through her husband, Ben Barrett.
“Defendant Jackson forced himself into Plaintiff’s home, and with force and violence sexually assaulted Plaintiff,” the suit states. “During the assault, Plaintiff, a woman of faith prayed to God for help. During the assault, Plaintiff feared for her life. After the assault and when Defendant Jackson was satiated, he left the residence.”
Jackson, his companies Jermaine L. Jackson Music Productions and Work Records, were all listed as defendants in the suit, and the listed causes of action are sexual assault, battery, sexual battery, and negligence. Barrett asked for unspecified damages.
A representative for Jackson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
“Rita Barrett suffered an egregious and violent sexual assault,” Barrett’s attorney, Jeff Anderson, told Rolling Stone. “This is about her power and the declaration of it when she learned something could be done under the law, and she found the strength and support to find us and is now standing up for herself and others.”
Gordy himself wasn’t named as a defendant, but the suit claims that Gordy protected Jackson for financial interests. Barrett alleges that the day after the assault, she reported the incident to Gordy due to his relationship with both her and the Jackson family, stating that Gordy “was uniquely situated to both report Defendant Jackson’s acts and to aid plaintiff during her time of trauma.”
“Instead,” the suit alleges, “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.”
A representative for Gordy did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
The suit was filed through California’s AB2777, which, like New York’s recently closed Adult Survivors Act, temporarily waives the statute of limitations on some civil claims related to sexual misconduct. Those statutes have led to a wave of sexual abuse lawsuits across the music and entertainment industries, with actors, artists, and executives, including Vin Diesel, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Axl Rose, and L.A. Reid, among several others, all facing allegations from suits filed in the past several months.