Jermaine Jackson sued over sexual assault allegation

US News

A woman has sued Michael Jackson’s older brother Jermaine, accusing him of sexually assaulting her in 1988. 

The suit against The Jackson 5 singer was filed in California under the state’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which allows civil suits in sexual assault cases after the statute of limitations has expired if one or more parties are legally responsible or if there was a cover-up.

The deadline for suits to be filed under the act is 31 December.


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The Jackson Five: Michael, Marlon, Jermaine, Tito, Jackie, ca. 1970s.

1970s Pic: Everett/Shutterstock
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The Jackson Five: Michael, Marlon, Jermaine, Tito and Jackie. Pic: Everett/Shutterstock

Rita Butler Barrett said in the suit she knew Jackson through her husband’s relationship with Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, which represented acts including The Jackson 5, The Supremes and Marvin Gaye.

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She alleges that Jackson forced himself into her home “with force and violence sexually assaulted” her in the spring of 1988.

Barrett’s complaint said she feared for her life during the attack and that Jackson left after the assault.

She reported the assault to Gordy the following day, but he and others worked to cover up the assault instead of reporting it, the complaint alleged.

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“Because of his relationships with both Jackson and [Barrett’s] family, Gordy was uniquely situated to both report Jackson’s acts and to aid [Barrett] during her time of trauma,” the complaint said.

“Instead, Gordy withheld and concealed the acts, further perpetuating the coverup and allowing Gordy, Jackson, and others in the business relationship to continue to reap profits derived from Jackson’s work and reputation for years to come,” the complaint said.

Photo by: Lee Roth STAR MAX, Inc. - copyright 2002 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Telephone/Fax: (212) 995-1196 10/10/02 Berry Gordy at the "Rainbow/Push Coalition" Press Conference. (CA) (Star Max via AP Images)
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Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, in 2002

Barrett filed the complaint, which alleged sexual battery, assault and negligence, against Jackson and his businesses Jermaine L Jackson Music Productions Inc. and Work Records.

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She said that to this day she suffers “great emotional distress”, fear, anxiety, humiliation and other physical and emotional injuries as a result of the alleged assault.

EXCLUSIVE TO EVERETT - NEVER PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED: The Jackson Five: from back left: Randy Jackson, Tito Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Jackie Jackson, Michael Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, 1975, Millrun Playhouse Theater in the Round, Nile, Illinois.

1975 Pic: Everett/Shutterstock
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The Jackson Five in 1975 with Jermaine on the far right

The suit seeks general damages to be determined at trial.

A similar act in New York, which allowed historical complaints to be submitted until late November, saw lawsuits against household names including Axl Rose, Jamie Foxx and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Sky News has contacted Jermaine Jackson for comment.

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