Lizzo says ‘I am not the villain’ over sexual harassment allegations by former dance troupe members


Lizzo says 'I am not the villain' over sexual harassment allegations by former dance troupe members

Lizzo has insisted she is “not the villain” after she was sued by three former dancers over allegations of sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment.

The singer, who is known for embracing body positivity, said in an Instagram statement that the allegations are “as unbelievable as they sound” and “too outrageous to not be addressed”.

She described the last few days as “gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing”.

“My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticised,” she said.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles on Tuesday, was brought against the Truth Hurts singer, real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson, and her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc (BGBT).

The three dancers – Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez – claim they were subject to sexual, religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment, among other allegations.

These include the accusation the singer pressured one of them into touching a nude performer at a club in Amsterdam’s red light district.

They also allege the captain of Lizzo’s dance team, Shirlene Quigley, attempted to convert the performers’ religious beliefs and derided those who had premarital sex, also allegedly sharing lewd sexual fantasies and publicly discussing the virginity of one of the complainants.

Ms Davis and Ms Williams began dancing with Lizzo after competing on her Amazon reality show “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” in 2021, but were both later fired.

Ms Rodriguez was hired in the same year after performing in the video “Rumours” but resigned earlier this year over the “appalling behaviour”.

Lizzo said: “Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed.”

She added: “I am not here to be looked at as a victim, but I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days.”

Lizzo says 'I am not the villain' over sexual harassment allegations by former dance troupe members

“These sensationalised stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behaviour on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.

“As an artist I have always been very passionate about what I do.

“I take my music and my performances seriously because at the end of the day I only want to put out the best art that represents me and my fans.

“With passion comes hard work and high standards.

“Sometimes I have to make hard decisions but it’s never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren’t valued as an important part of the team.”

Lizzo says 'I am not the villain' over sexual harassment allegations by former dance troupe members

Lizzo added: “I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself but I cannot accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not.

“There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world.

“I know what it feels like to be body shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticize or terminate an employee because of their weight.

“I’m hurt but I will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this. I want to thank everyone who has reached out in support to lift me up during this difficult time.”

But the lawyer who represents the three dancers said the entertainer’s denial of the allegations “only adds to our clients’ emotional distress”.

Ron Zambrano, of West Coast Employment Lawyers, said in statement: “Lizzo has failed her own brand and has let down her fans.

“Her denial of this reprehensible behaviour only adds to our clients’ emotional distress.

“The dismissive comments and utter lack of empathy are quite telling about her character and only serve to minimise the trauma she has caused the plaintiffs and other employees who have now come forward sharing their own negative experiences.

“While Lizzo notes it was never her intention ‘to make anyone feel uncomfortable,’ that is exactly what she did to the point of demoralising her dancers and flagrantly violating the law.”


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