Antonio L.A. Reid, a co-founder of LaFace Records and former head of Arista, Epic, and Def Jam Records, is facing serious allegations of sexual assault and harassment in a lawsuit brought forth by former Arista executive Drew Dixon. The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan’s Federal District Court and reported by Variety, alleges that Reid assaulted Dixon twice during her tenure at Arista in the early 2000s. Dixon claims that when she rejected his advances, Reid retaliated professionally, impacting her ability to sign or develop artists like John Legend. Consequently, she left the company in 2002.
This isn’t the first time Dixon has come forward with such accusations. In 2017, she accused Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons of rape, a claim he has denied. While Dixon’s lawsuit against Reid does not name Simmons as a defendant, it does reference an alleged rape by Simmons in 1995. Dixon is still evaluating her legal options regarding Simmons, according to her statement to the New York Times.
Dixon sees this lawsuit as an opportunity to hold individuals accountable for their actions. In her words to the Times, “I have an opportunity now to seek some degree of accountability, and that’s really what I’m trying to do.”
Reid’s representatives, associated with his recent venture, Mega, through the new Gamma company, have not responded to requests for comment. Reid previously stepped down as chairman of Epic Records in 2017 after sexual harassment allegations were reported by Variety.
Dixon’s complaint falls under the purview of the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law enacted last year, allowing a one-year window for civil lawsuits from individuals who were over 18 when they experienced abuse. This window is set to close on November 24.
Dixon, known for her work with artists like Whitney Houston and Carlos Santana, details various instances of Reid’s “sexualizing and harassing” behavior in her lawsuit. According to the suit, these behaviors began when Reid assumed the top position at the company in 2000. Dixon contends that after rejecting or avoiding his advances, Reid retaliated by embarrassing her publicly or behaving unprofessionally. This allegedly included significant reductions or freezing of promotional and recording budgets, as well as the rejection of song demos and artist auditions.
Dixon’s departure from Arista in 2002 to attend Harvard Business School did not mark the end of her struggles. Despite attempts to re-enter the music industry at her previous level, encounters with Reid and his alleged enablers, as stated in the lawsuit, reportedly hindered her progress.