Music executive Antonio “LA” Reid, a Grammy winner who ran Arista and Epic Records, has been accused of sexual assault and harassment in a new lawsuit.
Drew Dixon, Arista’s former vice president of A&R, filed the lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan on Wednesday. The lawsuit alleges that Reid “sexually harassed Ms. Dixon and refused to allow her to be successful unless she acceded to his demand that he be alone and close to her, where he would create the opportunity to sexually assault her on two separate occasions.
“This litigation is not only about the horrific physical assaults that Ms. Dixon endured,” the lawsuit says, “but also about the irreparable harm caused to the rare and flourishing career of an extraordinary talent.”
A representative for Reid did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. In a statement to the Times, Dixon said: “LA Reid is a known predator, who uses his unique professional power to impose himself on his victims. In my case, his persistent campaign of sexual harassment and assault forced me to leave the job I loved when I was at the peak of my career in the music business, having worked my way up from internships to a job as a receptionist.”
The New York Times was the first to report on the lawsuit.
Dixon had previously accused music mogul Russell Simmons of assaulting her in a 2017 New York Times article and in the 2020 documentary “On the Record.” (Mr. Simmons denied the allegations.)
Reid, 67, co-founded the influential Atlanta record label LaFace and in 2000 replaced executive Clive Davis at the top of Arista Records. He was instrumental in signing artists such as Usher, OutKast, Pink and Avril Lavigne to those labels.
When Reid took the top job at Arista, Dixon, now 53, was an A&R executive there, and had previously worked with Simmons at pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam. Dixon directed several hits for Arista, including Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay” and Carlos Santana’s “Maria Maria.”
Dixon’s lawsuit alleges that in 2001, on a private flight to a company event in Puerto Rico, Reid “asked her to sit next to him to review materials for the presentation, and then began playing with her hair, kiss her and digitally penetrate her.” her vulva without her consent.”
Months later, Dixon says she was in New York with Reid when he asked her to listen to a demo of a new artist in his car. “Shortly into the trip, Mr. Reid again, without Ms. Dixon’s permission or consent, began groping and kissing Ms. Dixon, who squirmed and pushed him while Mr. Reid’s driver looked on.” front,” the lawsuit alleges. “When Mr. Reid complained and became visibly irritated at his lack of compliance, Ms. Dixon froze. “Mr Reid again digitally penetrated Ms Dixon’s vulva without her consent.”
Dixon claims that after the two incidents, “Mr. Reid would directly respond to Ms. Dixon’s rejection of his sexual advances by punishing performers Ms. Dixon had already booked or blocking performers she attempted to hire,” which included future superstars Kanye West and John Legend.
He left the label in 2002 to pursue an MBA at Harvard, and although he later worked sporadically in music, he said he found it difficult to continue his career. “After her experiences with Mr. Reid, Ms. Dixon abandoned her career,” the lawsuit states. “Unable to recover from Mr. Reid’s sexual assaults and harassment and her constant linking of his sexual advances to the professional obstacles he placed in Ms. Dixon’s path; Ms. Dixon became depressed and despondent, and she finally abandoned her professional passion and experience.”
After these alleged incidents, Reid became a judge on “The X Factor” and took the top job at Epic Records in 2011, where he oversaw chart-topping records by Future and Travis Scott. In 2017, Reid resigned from Epic after an assistant accused him of sexual harassment. In 2018, he founded Hitco, a label that releases music by Jennifer Lopez and Outkast’s Big Boi. His latest venture is Mega, a music collective he co-founded with Usher.
Dixon’s lawsuit comes after the passage of the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law that opened a one-year period for civil lawsuits by anyone over the age of 18 who claims to have been abused or assaulted. The law’s deadline to file such lawsuits ends on November 24.
“Thanks to the ASA, hundreds of survivors in New York state have already held their abusers accountable,” Dixon told The Times. “Today I found the courage to join them.”