'The Voice' Alum Jordan Pruitt Suing Former Manager, Hollywood Records, Disney Over Alleged Abuse
The lawsuit seeks damages for allegations of sexual battery of a minor, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent supervision, negligent retention/hiring, negligent failure to warn train or educate and breach of fiduciary duty.
Jordan Pruitt has filed a lawsuit against her former manager Keith Thomas, accusing the producer and songwriter of sexually abusing her. The suit also names Hollywood Records and parent company The Walt Disney Company, accusing them of failing to prevent the abuse from Thomas, who Pruitt claims began sexually abusing her when she was 14. Thomas' company, Levosia Entertainment, is also named in the suit.
"3 weeks ago as 'Jane Doe' I filed a lawsuit against my molester and those who enabled him," the singer, who was a contestant on season three of NBC's The Voice, posted Tuesday on social media. "No more Jane Doe. I am Jordan Pruitt."
The suit was filed on Aug. 30 and seeks damages for allegations of sexual battery of a minor, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent supervision, negligent retention/hiring, negligent failure to warn train or educate and breach of fiduciary duty. A copy of the suit obtained by Billboard alleges that Hollywood Records encouraged the then-underage Pruitt to work with Thomas as a mentor and producer and allowed him to be "unsupervised" with her.
The suit claims that Thomas acted with "full knowledge, consent and assistance of Disney and Hollywood Records to exploit these relationships in order to gain access to Platintiff, and to set up, facilitate, and arrange meetings and encounters between he and the minor Plaintiff for the purpose of Keith Thomas engaging in childhood sexual abuse of Plaintiff."
In a statement sent to Billboard, Pruitt's attorney, Keith Davidson, said that his client, "like far too many child stars, was exploited by the very people who should have been protecting her. Jordan’s innocence was robbed from her as she was systematically groomed, molested, and controlled by a predator employed by Disney, a company that sells happiness to children. Disney had a duty to protect Jordan from Keith Thomas, and failed at every step. Jordan can never get back the innocence that was stolen from her, nor can she erase the trauma of this tragedy, but she is committed to making sure no other young women fall victim to child predators employed and protected by one of the largest entertainment corporations in the world. Jordan is brave to find the courage to come forward to take on such a large conglomerate. She like so many victims with their own #MeToo story must be supported."
Pruitt also claims in the suit that Thomas was controlling of her career, including engaging in what is described as "grooming" of the singer to be "accepting of the sexual abuse he so desired." Other alleged acts Thomas took in order to groom Pruitt include controlling her "bookings, studio sessions, tour schedules, public relations and media requests," as well as forbidding her from communicating with boys her own age, "deleting male contacts from her cell phone" and telling the singer that he "loved her" and that they were "soul mates." The complaint also claims that Thomas was engaged to be married to a woman of "similar age to him" at the time.
"The beating-down process was soon repeatedly followed by a period of incredible showering of attention, compliments, flirting, touching and assurances that Thomas ‘loved [Pruitt],'" reads the lawsuit, which also alleges Thomas made hurtful comments about the singer's "weight, looks, voice, songwriting ability, maturity and intelligence.” The suit claims that the alleged abuse began when Pruitt was 14 and continued until just before her 16th birthday, with allegations that Thomas took the singer's virginity and that the abuse took place at Staples Center in Los Angeles, as well as on soundstages at the Warner Bros. lot, in artists' trailers, hotel rooms and parked cars.
The alleged abuse included "rubbing, petting, fondling Plaintiff sexually on her genitals and body, digitally penetrating Plaintiff, giving Plaintiff deep passionate kisses where he tongue kissed her mouth and body, orally copulated Plaintiff, forced Plaintiff to orally copulate him, rubbed his clothed and unclothed body against Plaintiff’s, and rubbed his penis on Plaintiff’s vagina, having penile to vaginal sex thereby taking Plaintiff’s virginity, and plaintiff suspects that, she was on one occasion, drugged and anally penetrated."
Before, during and after the alleged sexual abuse, the suit claims that Thomas "threatened, intimidated and coerced the minor Plaintiff, who was under extreme duress due to his actions, into not informing anyone of her sexual abuse or pursuing legal action therefore. These threats included telling Plaintiff that she would be physically harmed if she ever told anyone, that she would be taken away from her parents, that her career in entertainment would be over and that she would get in trouble with law enforcement and go to jail, forcing Plaintiff to promise not to tell anyone. As a result of these threats, Plaintiff believed her life would be in grave danger if she disclosed any facts surrounding the abuse she suffered and was suffering."
Pruitt signed to Hollywood Records in 2005 and released two albums for the label, 2007's No Ordinary Girl and 2008's Permission to Fly. Her debut single, "Outside Looking In," was released in 2006, the same year she hit the road with The Cheetah Girls and on the High School Musical: The Concert tour. She appeared on The Voice in Sept. 24, 2012, singing Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away," and was chosen for Christina Aguilera's team; she was eliminated a month later. The singer announced her retirement from music in December 2017.
In a Facebook post since reportedly made private, Pruitt wrote in December 2018 that she had been molested as a teen, though she didn't identify her alleged abuser at the time. The suit claims that Thomas threatened Pruitt that their "love was a secret" that was meant to be kept from her parents and others, while also allegedly grooming the singer's mother by spending "extended periods of time speaking with her in person and on the phone, telling her intimate details about his life and his past, in an attempt to gain a 'closeness' with Plaintiff’s mother and earn her trust so that she would allow him to spend time alone with Plaintiff."
At press time, spokespeople for Disney, Hollywood Records and Thomas could not be reached for comment. In seeking unspecified damages, the suit claims that Pruitt suffered lost wages, while requesting relief for attorney's fees and statutory and punitive damages, as well as "psychological, mental and emotional distress, including but not limited to night-terrors, stress, fear, shame, humiliation, depression, physical distress, anxiety, depression, sadness, anger, trust issues, and control issues. She has and will continue to incur expenses for mental and medical care due to the abuse, according to proof at trial."
The suit seeks a jury trial. Pruitt says she's currently writing a book titled AA: Abuse Anonymous.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.