Antonio L.A. Reid, cofounder of LaFace Records and former head of Arista, Epic and Def Jam Records, has been accused of sexual assault and harassment in a lawsuit by former Arista executive Drew Dixon.
The suit, which was filed Wednesday in Manhattan’s Federal District Court and obtained by Variety, claims that Reid assaulted her twice during her time at Arista in the early 2000s. She says that after she declined his advances, he retaliated against her professionally, causing her to miss out on signing or developing artists such as John Legend. She left the company in 2002.
Dixon also accused Def Jam cofounder Russell Simmons of rape in 2017, a claim he has denied. Her lawsuit against Reid claims that Simmons raped her in 1995, although he is not named as a defendant. She told the New York Times that she is still evaluating her legal options with regard to Simmons.
“I have an opportunity now to seek some degree of accountability,” Dixon told the Times. “And that’s really what I’m trying to do.”
Reps for Reid, who recently launched an imprint called Mega through the new Gamma company, did not respond to requests for comment. He stepped down as chairman of Epic Records in 2017 after Variety reported that an assistant had accused him of sexual harassment.
Dixon’s complaint falls under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law enacted last year that opened a one-year window for civil lawsuits from anyone who was over 18 when they say that abuse occurred. The window closes on Nov. 24.
Dixon worked extensively with artists including Whitney Houston and Carlos Santana while she was at Arista. Her lawsuit references several instances of Reid’s “sexualizing and harassing” behavior, which she says began when he ascended to the top of the company in 2000.
She says that after avoiding or rebuffing his advances, he “retaliated against her by embarrassing her in front of others or otherwise being curt and unprofessional,” it states. “Promotional and recording budgets were suddenly reduced dramatically or frozen altogether. Song demos and artist auditions were flatly rejected.”
“It was very clear that I was being punished because I would not comply,” she told the Times.
In 2002, she left the company to attend Harvard Business School. She made several attempts to return to her previous level in the music industry but claims in the suit that encounters with Reid “and his enablers” led to her withdrawing.