‘Voice’ singer files sex abuse suit against Disney and Nashville producer

Jordan Pruitt, a contestant on the third season of “The Voice,” has filed a lawsuit accusing her former manager, Keith Thomas, of sexually abusing her beginning when she was 14 years old.

Pruitt also sued her former record label, Hollywood Records, and its parent company, the Walt Disney Co., alleging that they had failed to prevent the abuse. The suit alleges that the label compelled her to work with Thomas as her mentor and producer, and allowed him to be unsupervised, even though it knew or should have known that he was a sexual abuser.

“Unfortunately, these large companies are primarily concerned with sales, money and charts,” Pruitt said in a statement to Variety. “Too often they fall short of protecting the young talent that they are ‘supposed’ to be caretakers for. Time and time again we see people in positions of power fail us. I couldn’t be more disappointed in how Disney treats their underage talent like cash cows.”

Disney and Hollywood Records did not comment on the complaint.

The suit represents a bombshell within the country music scene, where sexual misconduct allegations are still largely taboo even in the #MeToo era.

Thomas is a veteran Nashville producer. He got his start with Ronnie Milsap, and worked with BeBe and CeCe Winans before hitting it big with the Amy Grant single “Baby Baby.” Since the early 2000s, he has worked largely with teenaged female singers, including Pruitt. In 2013, he starred on “Chasing Nashville,” a short-lived Lifetime reality show that followed four girls striving for country music stardom.

The lawsuit was first filed on Aug. 14, using pseudonyms. Reached by Variety at that time, Thomas referred questions to his attorney. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment. An amended complaint with the true names attached was filed on Tuesday.

Pruitt signed with the label as a 14-year-old in 2005. She released two albums in 2007 and 2008. In her statement to Variety, she said that many in the Nashville music world fear the consequences of speaking up about sexual abuse.

“I am standing up and speaking out not only for myself, but for the countless victims across the world who have never been given the opportunity for justice,” Pruitt said. “It is extremely taboo for anyone to speak about sexual abuse, misconduct and exploitation of minors in the ordinarily conservative and genteel South. Over and above decorum, many fear the repercussions of coming forward for example (getting blacklisted from the industry, losing work, having YOUR reputation tarnished). To many victims, coming forward feels shameful. Even though the #metoo movement has been very powerful for many, there is still much work that needs to be done. No one should ever be punished for telling the truth and seeking justice, period.”

The suit claims that Thomas groomed Pruitt for abuse, controlling her entire professional life, cutting off contact with boys her own age, and putting her down with negative comments about her looks and talents. The suit alleges that he would also shower her with compliments, saying he loved her and that no one understood how “special” their relationship was.

According to the complaint, Thomas also groomed her mother, gaining her trust, which enabled him to spend time alone with Pruitt.

Pruitt alleges that the abuse began when she was 14, and continued until a week before her 16th birthday. She claims that it involved kissing and oral sex, and that Thomas took her virginity. She also alleges that on one occasion, she was drugged and anally penetrated. She alleges that the abuse occurred at the Staples Center, on soundstages at the Warner Bros. lot, in artists’ trailers, hotel rooms, and in parked cars.

According to Pruitt, Thomas told her that “their love was a secret.” She says that she only became fully aware of the abusive nature of the relationship last December.

Pruitt had disclosed in a Facebook post in December that she had been molested as a teenager, but she did not identify the abuser at the time.

“At fifteen this person had brainwashed me into thinking that the things that were happening were ‘natural’ and ‘okay,'” she wrote. “While I will spare you any of the mind-piercing details, I can honestly and unfortunately say that this man sexually abused me for almost two years of my life. I am a victim of child molestation because of him.”

In her statement, Pruitt said she hoped that as a result of the complaint, Disney and Hollywood Records would “spend their time and money on putting safeguards in place in order to protect the minors the are employing.”

Last week, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge granted a request from Pruitt’s attorney, Keith Davidson, to identify the parties in the suit.

“Jordan Pruitt, like far too many child stars, was exploited by the very people who should have been protecting her,” Davidson said in a statement. “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. I am honored to represent Jordan.”

The suit also names Thomas’ company, Levosia Entertainment, as a defendant. Pruitt is now writing a book about her experience, “Abuse Anonymous.”

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38 PHOTOS
Jordan Pruitt over the years
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Jordan Pruitt over the years
Jordan Pruitt in concert on October 20, 2006 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage)
Jordan Pruitt (Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic)
Jordan Pruitt during The Cheetah Girls and Vanessa Hudgens in Concert - November 9, 2006 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, United States. (Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic)
Jordan Pruitt during 'High School Musical' In Concert - December 28, 2006 at Verizon Wireless Center in Washington, DC, Washington, DC, United States. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
Musical Artist Jordan Pruit performs at the Hollywood Records & Star Jordan Pruitt Joins IAC CEO Barry Diller For Debut of New Tween Virtual World 'ZwinkyCuties.com' at Times Square Studios on September 16, 2008 in New York City (Photo by Mark Von Holden/WireImage)
Musical Artist Jordan Pruit performs at the Hollywood Records & Star Jordan Pruitt Joins IAC CEO Barry Diller For Debut of New Tween Virtual World 'ZwinkyCuties.com' at Times Square Studios on September 16, 2008 in New York City (Photo by Mark Von Holden/WireImage)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 16: Musical Artist Jordan Pruit poses at the Hollywood Records & Star Jordan Pruitt Joins IAC CEO Barry Diller For Debut of New Tween Virtual World 'ZwinkyCuties.com' at Times Square Studios on September 16, 2008 in New York City (Photo by Mark Von Holden/WireImage for Brodeur Partners)
VALENCIA, CA - AUGUST 23: ***Exclusive Coverage*** Singer Jordan Pruitt performs onstage at the Radio Disney Concert held at Six Flags Magic Mountain at the Golden Bear Theater on August 23, 2008 in Valencia, California. (Photo by Mathew Imaging/WireImage)
NEW ORLEANS - JULY 27: Jordan Pruitt performs the National Anthem on the field before the San Jose SaberCats and the Philadelphia Soul play the Arena Bowl XXII at the New Orleans Arena on July 27, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
BURBANK, CA - FEBRUARY 19: Singer Jordan Pruitt at Chevy Rocks The Future at the Buena Vista Lot at The Walt Disney Studios on February 19, 2008 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Chris Polk/WireImage)
BURBANK, CA - FEBRUARY 19: Singer Jordan Pruitt performs at Chevy Rocks The Future at the Buena Vista Lot at The Walt Disney Studios on February 19, 2008 in Burbank, California. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Jordan Pruitt at Samsung's Hope for Education Annual Program Launch, NYC on April 22, 2008 (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Jordan Pruitt at Samsung's Hope for Education Annual Program Launch, NYC on April 22, 2008 (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
ORLANDO, FL - MAY 02: Actress / Singer Jordan Pruitt appears on the red carpet for the 2008 Disney Channel Games at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World on May 2, 2008 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Daly/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 20: Performer Jordan Pruitt arrives at the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on June 20, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - MAY 02: Actress / Singer Jordan Pruitt appears on the red carpet for the 2008 Disney Channel Games at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World on May 2, 2008 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Daly/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Singer Jordan Pruitt arrives at the Walt Disney Pictures' 'Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience' at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2009. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Actress Jordan Pruitt arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience' at the El Capitan Theatre on February 24, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
INDIANAPOLIS - AUGUST 10: Jordan Pruitt performs in concert at the Indiana State Fair on August 10, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic)
INDIANAPOLIS - AUGUST 10: Jordan Pruitt performs in concert at the Indiana State Fair on August 10, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - SEPTEMBER 26: Singer Jordan Pruitt attends the Neutrogena Fresh Faces of Music event benefiting the VH1 Save the Music Foundation at Jim Henson Studios on September 26, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - SEPTEMBER 26: Singer Jordan Pruitt attends the Neutrogena Fresh Faces of Music event benefiting the VH1 Save the Music Foundation at Jim Henson Studios on September 26, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - SEPTEMBER 26: Singer Jordan Pruitt performs at the Neutrogena Fresh Faces Music Event for VH1 Save the Music at Jim Henson Studios on September 26, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28: Jordan Pruitt performs at World Wish Day in front of 30 wish kids at The Grove on April 28, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)
THE VOICE -- Season: 3 -- Pictured: Jordan Pruitt -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Blind Auditions' Episode 306 -- Pictured: Jordan Pruitt -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Christina Reality' Episode 314 -- Pictured: (l-r) Adriana Louise, Jordan Pruitt -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Christina Reality' Episode 314 -- Pictured: (l-r) Billie Joe Armstrong, Christina Aguilera, Jordan Pruitt -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Christina Reality' Episode 314 -- Pictured: Jordan Pruitt -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Battle Rounds' Episode 314 -- Pictured: Jordan Pruitt -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VOICE -- 'Battle Rounds' Episode 314 -- Pictured: (l-r) Adriana Louise, Carson Daly, Jordan Pruitt -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Recording Artist Jordan Pruitt arrives at the 14th annual 'Friends 'N' Family' GRAMMY event at Paramount Studios on February 11, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Actress Jordan Pruitt arrives at the Nail Garden Brentwood opening party & 2nd annual Beauty For A Cause spring toy drive at Nail Garden Brentwood on May 2, 2011 in Brentwood, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
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Secrets Make You Sick. By: Me " At just 14 years young, it looked as if all my dreams were coming true. And for the most part, they were. But, in the darkest crevice of my heart, would lie an insurmountable, undeniable, irrefutable amount of pain. I remember being in California, feeling the sunshine on my face, and seeing his eyes. Eyes that pierce your skin. Eyes that never stopped watching me for once second. As I filmed my music video, Jump to the Rhythm, those eyes were watching my every move. As I watch this video back now, I see this young girl laughing and smiling, but inside I was feeling trapped. All I remember is the feeling of being totally isolated from the world. This man had taken what was supposed to be one of the best experiences of my life, and gave me the worst memory of it. To this day, I won't watch that video. " Link in Bio. This is MY story.
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