On May 11, 2023, a 25-year-old woman filed a lawsuit in a Tennessee federal court against country music artist Jimmie Allen, claiming he sexually harassed and abused her during her time working as his day-to-day manager. The suit also names Wide Open Music, the Nashville music management firm that represented Allen and employed the woman.
The lawsuit, which identifies the plaintiff as Jane Doe, was filed in the United States Court for the Middle District of Tennessee and details Allen’s abusive behavior over a course of 18 months. The complaint also details how Ash Bowers and the management team at WOM were aware that Allen had a history of inappropriate sexual behavior and, nonetheless, put the young female plaintiff under Allen’s direction.
“We intend to show that WOM knew that Allen had a history of questionable behavior around women but did nothing to safeguard our client as she embarked upon her first professional job out of college,” said Elizabeth Fegan, founding partner of FeganScott, the firm representing the woman. “The executives at WOM promised our client mentorship and guidance in a new role, but instead she was offered up to Allen for his predation.”
After graduating magna cum laude in 2019, the plaintiff was hired as Jimmie Allen’s day-to-day artist manager at WOM in 2020, where her job duties required her to support Allen at all his events and appearances, as well as be on call at all times.
Shortly after Jane Doe was assigned to Allen, the complaint alleges that Bowers warned the plaintiff that Allen was known to routinely push boundaries, implying that she would have to put up with his inappropriate advances as part of her job responsibilities. The complaint adds that Allen’s former manager had been fired after she protected another woman from Allen’s behavior.
“Having been aware of Allen’s past behavior, it’s reprehensible that the company picked her out and threw her to the wolves like they did, knowing how things would turn out,” said Fegan. “Allen identified her as his target and groomed her, and the company did absolutely nothing to prevent it.”
According to the complaint, Allen regularly and openly sexually harassed and assaulted the plaintiff, citing several instances where Allen made comments about the plaintiff’s innocence and status as a single female on stage and in front of production crew and public audiences.
The complaint alleges that Allen’s sexual harassment significantly increased over time, including grabbing the plaintiff’s breasts and buttocks and harassing her to engage in sexual conduct, despite her expressing visible discomfort and attempting to push away.
One example cited in the complaint references an instance where, after attending a dinner with Allen and industry executives following the filming of an American Idol episode, the plaintiff lost consciousness and awoke naked in her hotel room with Allen insisting she take Plan B as soon as possible.
According to the complaint, Jane Doe was disoriented, confused and was bleeding vaginally, and as she attempted to leave the room, Allen grabbed her and forcibly kissed her before whispering, “You’re mine now.” Additionally, the complaint alleges that Allen raped her in private and videotaped multiple sexual encounters without her consent.
Jane Doe attempted to ask executives at WOM for help. After meeting with Bowers and a WOM executive to express her distress in working with Allen, the complaint describes how neither the company nor Bowers investigated the plaintiff’s claims to determine whether and to what extent she was being harmed, making it clear that her job was dependent on tolerating Allen’s misconduct.
“Allen’s behavior is a text-book example of grooming and coercion,” Fegan noted. “He systematically broke this woman’s will by forcing her to believe she had no control over the situation. He made her believe that if she stood up for herself, he would ensure she would never work in the industry again, or worse.”
As Allen’s sexual harassment and abuse continued, the complaint cites how the plaintiff became increasingly more depressed and anxious and considered committing suicide.
Upon disclosing the details of Allen’s abuse to Bowers and WOM management in October 2022, the complaint describes how the plaintiff was placed on a leave of absence and terminated shortly after.