Another woman accuses late music executive Ahmet Ertegun of sexual assault
A second woman, Dorothy Carvello, has sued the estate of Ahmet Ertegun, the late co-founder and longtime chief executive of Atlantic Records, alleging he sexually assaulted her while she was employed by the label from 1987 to 1990.
Carvello filed a lawsuit Monday in New York state court against Ertegun‘s estate and Atlantic Records, which is owned by Warner Music Group, for battery, forcible touching, sexual abuse, criminal and civil conspiracy and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The suit, which called Atlantic studios and offices “places to indulge their sexual desires,” also named Doug Morris and Jason Flom, former label executives at Atlantic and elsewhere, as defendants. It accuses each of either taking part in, or permitting, Ertegun’s alleged assaults. Carvello seeks monetary damages that would be set during a trial.
Ertegun died in 2006 at age 83, and Morris and Flom are still alive.
The lawsuit comes one week after a former music manager, Jan Roeg, sued Ertegun’s estate and Atlantic and alleged a similar pattern of sexual assault by the late executive and accused the label of fostering a toxic work culture and covering up the abuse.
Jan Roeg says late music executive Ahmet Ertegun sexually assaulted her several times starting in the 1980s and alleges Atlantic Records covered it up.
Both women filed the lawsuit under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which was signed into law earlier this year and went into effect Nov. 24. The new law gives survivors of sexual assault one year to sue their abusers, even if the statute of limitations has expired.
A representative for Flom did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Morris could not be reached Tuesday evening.
Warner Music Group did not immediately respond to comment on Tuesday either, but the company previously issued a statement responding to Roeg’s allegations.
“These allegations date back nearly 40 years, to before WMG was a standalone company. We are speaking with people who were there at the time, taking into consideration that many key individuals are deceased or into their 80s and 90s,” it read. “To ensure a safe, equitable, and inclusive working environment, we have a comprehensive Code of Conduct, and mandatory workplace training, to which all of our employees must adhere. We regularly evaluate how we can evolve our policies to ensure our work environment is free from discrimination and harassment.”
In 1988, Carvello became the label’s first female head of its artists-and-repertoire division since its founding in 1947. She brought top talent to Atlantic, including the rock band Skid Row.
However, Carvello’s first job at the company was as Ertegun’s assistant, starting in 1987. During her time as assistant, Ertegun regularly grabbed her breasts and exposed himself to her and masturbated in front of her while dictating correspondence to her, the lawsuit alleges.
Even if you didn’t know a thing about Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, who died in December at 83, you’d instantly glean his monumental significance in the history of popular music from the footage of him in PBS’ latest “American Masters” documentary.
In 1988, Carvello, Ertegun and Flom traveled together to a bar to watch Skid Row perform in an effort to sign the band. While waiting for the performance to start, Ertegun allegedly grabbed beneath Carvello’s skirt, pulling down her underwear and exposed and grabbed her genital area, causing her pain, according to the lawsuit. The two struggled in front of Flom, who did not intervene, the suit said. Carvello left with bloody scratches on her abdomen.
Ertegun made further unwanted sexual advances toward Carvello later during the trip, court documents said.
The lawsuit also alleges a separate incident in which Ertegun slammed Carvello’s arm down on a table, fracturing it.
Several weeks after the incident, Skid Row signed with Atlantic and Carvello was promoted as an A&R executive.
In September 1990, Flom allegedly ordered Carvello to sit on his lap during a work meeting in front of other executives, the suit said. She refused and wrote a memo to Morris, who was her direct supervisor at the time, raising alarms about the toxic work culture at the label. Morris responded by firing Carvello, since she “questioned his authority,” the suit alleges.
Carvello leveled versions of these allegations against Ertegun in “Anything for a Hit,” her 2017 tell-all book about her experiences in the music industry.
Morris went on to become chief executive of Universal Music Group from the 1990s until 2010, then headed Sony Music Entertainment in until 2017. He is now chairman of 12Tone Music Group, which Warner Music Group acquired last year.
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Flom became chair and chief executive of Atlantic in 2004, and held that position until he left the following year to fill the same role at Virgin Records. He founded and heads Lava Records, whose roster includes Lorde, Jessie J and Greta Van Fleet.
Ertegun, who also founded the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1983, remained chairman of Atlantic Records until his death from a head injury resulting from a fall backstage at a Rolling Stones concert.
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