James Brown faces sex harassment suit

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The Independent US

James Brown, the self-styled godfather of soul, has been accused of behaving like an out-of-control sex machine – sacking one of his employees because she refused his sexual advances.

Lisa Agbalaya is seeking $2m (£1.38m) for wrongful termination of employment and sexual harassment, having filed a suit against the singer in a Los Angeles court. Despite efforts by Brown's lawyers to have the case dismissed, the court said it will hear the allegations. The hearing took place in the absence of Brown, who was last night playing in Hackney, London, as part of a European tour.

Ms Agbalaya worked for The New James Brown Enterprises Office in California, starting in 1993. She said in her deposition that, from 1999, the soul star was constantly smoking cannabis in the office and that he began "a consistent pattern of discrimination and harassment". She said the singer was constantly pestering her and other female employees for sex.

Brown, 67, who in 1988 was convicted of the attempted murder of his wife and sent to prison for six years, said he intended to fight the accusation. His lawyer, Debra Opri, said he "has long held that he has become a target (for) easy money". She described Ms Agbalaya as a disgruntled employee and said the allegations were "adamantly denied".

In an effort to have the case thrown out by the court, Ms Opri argued that, because Brown's company headquarters was in Georgia, it would put a heavy burden on him to fly in a number of witnesses The court disagreed, scheduling the hearing to run between 17 September and 28 January.

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