“The secrets we have unveiled are horrifying,” attorney Jeff Anderson said in a press release on Thursday, January 25. “What may be even more horrifying is that we know this is only the tip of the iceberg.”
The lawyer hosted a live press event with several women who claimed to have been sexually assaulted while working in the music industry or as fans.
Former Dream singer Melissa Schuman detailed being allegedly assaulted by Backstreet Boys’ Carter, 43, when she was a teenager, while Sheila Kennedy recalled Guns N’ Roses frontman Rose, 61, allegedly attacking her in the ‘80s.
“The music industry should thrive on talent, dedication, and passion not coercion, not exploitation, not harassment, and certainly not rape,” Schuman, 39, said on Thursday. “In sharing my story, I aim to empower others to break the cycle of silence that has allowed this issue to persist. It’s about time the music industry is no longer a breeding ground for abuse.”
Kari Krome, who is part of the Make Music Safe Program and a former songwriter for the Runaways, slammed Rodney Bingenheimer for being a “well-known predator” while asking his employer SiriusXM to cut ties with the rocker.
Scroll down to learn more about the survivors’ alleged attacks — and what they want the music industry to do in response:
Women Are ‘Cheap Labor’ in Music Industry
Schuman, who previously spoke about her alleged assault in 2016, recounted her start in music, saying she was part of the girl group Dream in 1999. The band was signed to Sean “Diddy” Combs‘ Bad Boy Records.
“I was in the middle of school at the time, actually barely out of the eighth grade. And I believe that all my dreams were on the verge of coming true,” she said on Thursday, noting that after the group gained multi-platinum status, she thought her career would take off.
Schuman confessed, “I never, ever considered the darker motives behind discovering and shaping young talent, like the girls in Dream and myself besides us being used as cheap labor.” She alleged that the girls were “a prime age for grooming.”
When she was about to turn 18, Schuman remembered picking up on “this sort of silent understanding by those around me, that success would come at the expense of the exchange of my body.” Schuman alleged that it was joked about among the adults in the industry that “the cost of saying yes to uncomfortable advances” would help with “career advancement.”
Nick Carter Allegedly ‘Weaponized’ Fandom After Assault Claims
Schuman told the press on Thursday that she was “sexually assaulted by Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys when I was only 18 years old.” She alleged that the incident completely derailed her music career.
“I believed it was impossible to safeguard myself from his control and his influence while pursuing music,” she explained. “And so at the young age of 20 years I abandoned my recording career as a solo artist, I was trapped by skewed power dynamics.”
Schuman claimed that the industry was not only made up of “predators,” but she argued that “those profiting from the predators that shield them at all costs” were just as bad. When Schuman came forward with her story, first on her blog in 2017 and then to police the next year, she alleged that Carter had his fans shame her.
“I have since become a target of retaliation through orchestrated PR,” she claimed. “Read the headlines and social media attacks my abuser and his boy band are well funded, they have access to extensive resources and they even weapon weaponize their fandom to shield their bandmate and brand from accountability.”
Schuman sued Carter in April 2023 for sexual assault and battery. In court documents obtained by Us Weekly, Schuman claimed that Carter raped her when she was 18 and he was 22. She alleged in the filing that Carter performed oral sex on her and then forced her to do the same.
“Melissa Schuman has been peddling this tale for many years, but her allegation was false when she first made it back in 2017 —and it still is,” Carter’s lawyer, Liane K. Wakayama, told Us in a statement at the time. “A judge in Nevada recently ruled, after reviewing the extensive evidence we laid out, that there are strong grounds for Nick Carter to proceed with his lawsuit against Ms. Schuman for plotting to damage, defame and extort Nick, his associates, his friends and his family.”
Wakayama continued: “In light of our progress in Nevada, this kind of response is at once both predictable and pathetic. But this PR stunt won’t shake Nick from his determination to hold Ms. Schuman and her co-conspirators to account for the immeasurable pain and suffering their extortionate conduct has caused.”
Carter and Schuman appeared in court on January 17, during which time he asked for a judge to dismiss the case. Carter’s plea was denied. He has also filed a counter claim against Schuman and two others for allegedly harassing him.
Axl Rose Is a ‘Monster’
Us confirmed in November 2023 that Kennedy, 61, filed a lawsuit against Rose, accusing him of sexually assaulting her in 1989. Kennedy alleged that after she tried to leave Rose’s hotel room because he wanted to engage in group sex with two other models, Rose reportedly “knocked her to the floor” and dragged her to the bed.
“Simply put, this incident never happened. Notably, these fictional claims were filed the day before the New York State filing deadline expires,” Rose’s attorney, Alan S. Gutman, told Us in a statement at the time. “Though he doesn’t deny the possibility of a fan photo taken in passing, Mr. Rose has no recollection of ever meeting or speaking to the Plaintiff, and has never heard about these fictional allegations prior to today. Mr. Rose is confident this case will be resolved in his favor.”
Kennedy, who was a former Penthouse model, has not backed down from her claims and has continued to allege that the assault has left her traumatized. “I have a voice and I don’t want to be called a victim. I want other women to hear this about Axl Rose, he’s a monster and he needs to be held accountable,” she said on Thursday. “And I’m here today to make sure that happens.”
Kennedy noted that it was “difficult” to talk about the assault but she wanted to get her story out there. “I think it’s really important that we need to make this industry safe for women,” she explained. “There are so many victims that feel shame, that feel guilty. Feel like they when they go to sleep at night, they have nightmares and it needs to stop this monster needs to be stopped: Axl Rose.”
A Call for Rodney Bingenheimer to Be Fired
Krome (legal name Carrie Mitchell) filed two lawsuits in April 2023, one against the late Runaways manager Kim Fowley and the second against former KROQ disc jokey Bingenheimer, 76. Krome claimed that Fowley, who died in 2015, sexually assaulted her in the 1970s when she was a teen. Fowley was previously accused of sexual assault by Runaways’ bassist Jackie Fox.
Krome alleged that Bingenheimer also sexually assaulted her during that decade after grooming her. Bingenheimer has recently been accused of sexual assault by five other women. He has not publicly commented on the case. Bingenheimer currently has a SiriusXM radio show called “Rodney Bingenheimer in the Underground Garage,” which Krome argued on Thursday should get shut down due to the allegations.
“I’m here to demand Sirius XM to remove Rodney Bingenheimer a well-known serial predator and pedophile,” Krome told reporters. “What I want to know is how do listeners feel about having an abuser and a pedophile employed by Sirius XM? How many more victims need to come forward for Sirius to take this seriously? This is a cancer that’s affected every aspect of the industry and I’m here to call for it to stop and I would just like to say flat out shame on Sirius XM. Remove Rodney Bingenheimer.”
Us Weekly has reached out to Rose, Carter and Bingenheimer’s reps for comment.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).