Feb 8, 2023
Days before the 2023 Grammy Awards took place, a group of women who survived sexual abuse in the music industry spoke out at a Hollywood gala to highlight what many say is a systemic issue within the business.
The 2023 MusiCares Persons of the Year Gala was held Friday at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Survivors of sexual assault and abuse at the hands of music professionals gathered to call for the industry to “change its tune,” according to a Hollywood Reporter story.
“How much does music care?” asked Melissa Schuman, an actress and former member of the girl group Dream. In 2017, Schuman alleged that Backstreet Boy Nick Carter raped her in the early 2000s (Carter has denied the allegation).
“We need to take concrete steps to make sure that the music industry is safe and equitable,” Schuman added.
At a press conference before the MusiCares gala, Alexa Nikolas, the actor known from Nickelodeon’s “Zoey 101,” spoke emotionally about her own experiences with sexual assault in the music industry.
“I have seen the music industry publicly participate in smear campaigns that have come up about me,” Nikolas said. “It’s time to turn down the music and listen to what countless survivors of this industry have to say… Predators will come and go, but as long as institutions like the music industry enable and participate in the abuse and silencing towards survivors, then it won’t matter if ‘one bad apple,’ as they love to say, gets let go.”
Nikolas went on to compare the rampant sexual abuse within the music business to the systemic crimes of the Catholic Church.
“Mark a survivor’s words: the music industry is the Catholic Church on steroids,” she said.
“Predators will come and go, but as long as institutions like the music industry enable and participate in the abuse and silencing towards survivors, then it won’t matter if ‘one bad apple,’ as they love to say, gets let go,” Nikolas added.
Nomi Abadi has been a piano prodigy since she was three years old and has toured around the word as a classical pianist, according to Rolling Stone. As the advocate and founder of the Female Composer Safety League – an organization with more than 200 members – she spoke at the pre-MusiCares Gala press conference as a sexual assault survivor.
“I dream of the music industry where there are no sexual predators of women,” Abadi said. “I dream of a music industry where no little girl will ever encounter a sexual predator again … The time for sexual predators in music is over. The time for respect for all women begins now.”
As a member of the Recording Academy, Abadi noted that she did not cast her vote for the Grammys this year.
“I was unable to bring myself to vote,” she said. “I simply cannot fathom the idea of going along with an industry that allows ‘Silence Breakers’ to be ripped of opportunities because we spoke out. We should not have to choose between being artists and activists.”
Survivors of sexual assault in the music industry made their voices heard at the MusiCares Gala, calling out the business as a whole for what they believe is “a pattern of enabling and profiting off sexual predators,” according to Rolling Stone.
“We aren’t just seeking justice and accountability from the predators, but also the industry that enables them, allows and creates a systemic problem of providing access and [the] environment covering up sexual assault that continues to occur,” Melissa Schuman said last week. “And because of these women and other survivors who are coming forward, we will hold the predators as well as the industry itself accountable so we can put an end to this.”
In many cases, survivors cite inaction on the part of music executives as one of many factors enabling the culture of abuse.
Singer, songwriter, playwright, actor, and activist Sandra Booker said that “nothing was done” after she made accusations of sexual abuse within the music industry. “I became the villain instead of the victim,” she said.
“I am here to call out the people who stand in solidarity with predators and give them protection year after year,” Booker added. “We can stop this. The choice is ours. I appeal to MusiCares and this entire industry to take a stand.”
In recent months, numerous sexual assault claims have been filed by survivors:
Although many of these music industry sexual assault claims stem from incidents which occurred outside of the traditional statute of limitations, new laws in states like California and New York afford survivors with opportunities at justice through civil lawsuits.
Under a new California law – Assembly Bill 2777 (AB 2777) – adult survivors of sexual assault have the opportunity to file civil claims for financial compensation without being barred by the statute of limitations. AB 2777 opens a three-year window for any sexual assault or sex crime which occurred on or after January 1, 2009. From now until December 31, 2026, all adult survivors of California sexual assault may file claims with Dordulian Law Group (DLG).
Under New York’s Adult Survivors Act (ASA), the statute of limitations for such crimes is set aside, giving adult sexual assault survivors a limited one-year lookback window to file civil lawsuits for financial compensation. The one-year window officially took effect on November 24, 2022, allowing all New York adult survivors of sexual assault to file their claims with DLG until November 24 of this year.
Accordingly, survivors in both New York and California may be able to recover various damages through lawsuits, such as:
Filing a sexual assault civil lawsuit can be a preferred avenue which allows survivors to secure justice on their own terms while also obtaining financial compensation for the harm suffered.
DLG offers survivors of sexual assault proven expert legal representation as well as a 24/7 support network of professionals that are available as needed throughout the litigation process. Our SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts) is a unique, four-tiered form of legal assistance that prioritizes the overall well-being of survivors:
Contact a DLG sexual assault attorney today for a free and confidential consultation at 866-GO-SEE-SAM. Sam Dordulian founded DLG to be a different kind of law firm that specializes in supporting survivors throughout every step of the litigation process while also fighting tirelessly to secure justice on their behalf. As a member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council and a former sex crimes prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Dordulian offers you peace of mind through an unparalleled level of experience, commitment, skill, and proven results.
Dordulian and his team of Los Angeles, California, sexual assault attorneys have helped survivors secure countless multi-million dollar sex crime settlements, and we’ll fight aggressively to help you obtain the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your case.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.