In a recent legal development, Rita Butler Barrett has initiated a lawsuit against Jermaine Jackson, alleging sexual assault and rape in 1988.
This lawsuit, filed under California's Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, accuses Jackson of a decades-old assault and a subsequent cover-up.
Barrett's accusations place Jermaine Jackson, a prominent figure in the music industry and brother of the late Michael Jackson, at the center of a serious legal battle.
The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on a Wednesday, invoking the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act as its legal foundation. This California law allows for civil suits in sexual assault cases to be filed beyond the typical statute of limitations, provided there is evidence of a cover-up. The deadline for filing suits under this act is set for December 31, 2023, making Barrett's case one of the many that have emerged as the deadline approaches.
Barrett's connection to Jermaine Jackson dates back to her husband's relationship with Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records. Jermaine Jackson was a member of The Jackson 5, a group that rose to fame under the Motown label. This connection is central to Barrett's allegations, as it is claimed that it was through this network that Jackson was able to commit the alleged assault and subsequently cover it up.
According to the lawsuit, the alleged assault occurred in the spring of 1988 when Jackson forcibly entered Butler's home. The complaint describes the incident as an assault carried out with force and violence. This traumatic event, as per Barrett's account, was immediately reported to Berry Gordy the following day.
However, instead of taking action, Gordy allegedly chose not to report the assault. The complaint suggests that Gordy, due to his close relationship with both Jermaine Jackson and Barrett's family, was in a unique position to aid Barrett but instead contributed to concealing the assault. This alleged inaction and concealment are central to Barrett's claim of a conspiracy to protect Jackson's reputation and profits.
The lawsuit names Jermaine Jackson, Jermaine L. Jackson Music Productions Inc., and Work Records. The allegations include sexual battery, assault, and negligence. These serious charges paint a picture of a concerted effort to hide the truth and protect the interests of those involved in the music industry at the expense of justice for the victim.
Barrett's suffering, as detailed in the lawsuit, extends far beyond the immediate aftermath of the alleged assault. She claims to have endured "great emotional distress," fear, anxiety, humiliation, and other physical and emotional injuries as a result of both the assault and the subsequent cover-up. These long-term effects highlight the profound impact such incidents can have on survivors.
The lawsuit seeks general damages, the amount of which will be determined at trial. This legal action represents a quest for personal justice and a challenge to the systems and individuals that may have allowed such abuses to go unreported and unpunished.
NBC News reached out to representatives for both Jackson and Gordy for comments on the allegations. As of now, there has been no public response from either party. The silence from these representatives adds another layer of complexity to a case already shrouded in decades of secrecy and alleged misconduct.
The complaint alleges a conspiracy to cover up the assault to protect the reputations and profits of Jackson and his associates. This aspect of the lawsuit reflects a broader issue within the entertainment industry, where allegations of abuse and cover-ups have been increasingly brought to light in recent years. The case against Jackson and his associates is not just about a single incident but speaks to a larger pattern of behavior that has long been rumored in the industry.
Similar laws to California's Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act have led to lawsuits against other celebrities. For instance, a similar law in New York resulted in legal actions against well-known figures like Sean “Diddy” Combs and Steven Tyler. These cases, including Barrett's, underscore a growing willingness to confront and legally challenge long-standing abuses within the entertainment industry.
Barrett's lawsuit, therefore, is part of a larger movement seeking accountability for sexual misconduct, especially when it involves powerful individuals in the entertainment industry. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for how sexual assault and cover-up allegations are handled in the future, particularly in high-profile cases.
Rita Butler Barrett's lawsuit against Jermaine Jackson under the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act in California is a significant legal development. It not only brings to light allegations of a decades-old assault but also accuses influential figures in the music industry of a cover-up.