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AP: The Wire

Metro @ugusta

Ex-backup singer sues Brown

Web posted August 8, 2000

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By Sandy Hodson
Staff Writer

A former backup singer for James Brown has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the entertainer.

Lisa Rushton filed suit Friday in Richmond County Superior Court against Mr. Brown, through the New James Brown Enterprises. She seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and a jury trial.

A lawsuit represents only one side of a dispute.

Mr. Brown's attorney, Buddy Dallas, said Monday that he has not seen the lawsuit yet and could not comment. However, Mr. Dallas said he believed Ms. Rushton's claims already had been turned down by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

``You know that anyone can file a lawsuit saying anything,'' Mr. Dallas said.

Ms. Rushton alleges in the lawsuit that she was hired as a backup singer in 1991 and left the job two years later to have a baby, returning to work in 1994.

Immediately on her return, Ms. Rushton alleges, Mr. Brown started to demand sex, which she refused. In December 1995, he began to retaliate by reducing the number of her performances, the lawsuit contends.

Ms. Ruston alleges that in August 1996, Mr. Brown told her she either had to have sexual relations with him or she could not go to Spain to perform with the group. The next month, she alleges, he cut her pay by $300.

On Aug. 5, 1998, while she was working at Mr. Brown's home, Ms. Ruston alleges she slapped the singer's face after he put his hand on her buttocks.

The final straw, she alleges, occurred in New York in June 1999 when he made a scene at a crowded restaurant by yelling at her, telling her she was not allowed to look at or talk to any other man. Also in New York while they were backstage at Avery Fisher Hall, Ms. Ruston alleges, Mr. Brown yelled insults at her. She quit that month.

Ms. Ruston alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress and sexual harassment.

Earlier this year, Mr. Brown was named in another lawsuit filed by a former employee who also claimed sexual harassment. Lisa Ross Agbalaya sued for more than $1 million, claiming she was fired for refusing Mr. Brown's sexual advances. Ms. Agbalaya was president of the West Coast operations for The New James Brown Enterprises.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.

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