Like most of you, when I read all these stories about celebrities and politicians sexually assaulting women, I generally believe the stories and hope the men get what’s coming to them. Additionally, I’m a strong advocate for women’s rights and am the agent for a civility speaker who does a sexual assault prevention program in the colleges.
That being said, I can point to myself as one person who was wrongfully accused. I was in my early twenties, the youngest talent manager in Minneapolis, during the Minneapolis Sound heyday. I was also newly married and spent much of my time in the nightclubs scouting talent for the next Prince or Replacements. One of my signings was a very pretty, very talented female vocalist with a demo tape containing numerous potential hits.
Our business relationship was just beginning, and I was preparing the packages to send out to the record companies, when the woman called and said she wanted out of her contract, so she could sign with a different manager. I told her that there was no reason to let her out of her contract, as I had already put a lot of work into her and not a single record company had passed yet.
The woman hung up and called back a little later and said that if I didn’t release her from her contract, she would tell both my wife and the authorities that I had made unwanted sexual advances on her.
I didn’t care about the police, as I knew I didn’t do anything, but I did care about my wife. The entertainment business isn’t easy on marriages—especially when you’re young and represent people who have more than just attractive voices.
So I did the only thing that made sense: I gave in, promptly released the woman from her contract, and never spoke to her again.
In retrospect, I have no regrets. The other manager never got the woman a recording deal, so today that singer is probably waiting tables at some restaurant or working at Walmart, wondering what could have been if she had stayed with me for management. Also, I’m much more secure in my marriage—thirty-three years and counting—and would never allow something like that to happen again.
That event, from the late 1980s, comes to mind every time another celebrity gets accused of sexual assault. Sure, the celebrity probably did it, but there are also probably a few who are innocent and being manipulated by the accuser for personal gain. Not all men are creeps.