Sex claims all that jazz: sax man’s suit

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY JOHN ANNESE, EL­IZ­A­BETH KEOGH AND NANCY DIL­LON

A new defama­tion law­suit has ex­posed dis­puted claims that famed jazz mu­si­cian Steve Cole­man preyed on a teen pro­tégé and sex­u­ally ha­rassed her dur­ing a tor­tured five-year re­la­tion­ship.

The com­plaint, filed by Cole­man in New York, de­nies the al­le­ga­tions and says the woman spread the “in­ten­tion­ally mis­lead­ing” claims about the sax­o­phone star af­ter she helped start a #MeToo group for mu­si­cians.

Cole­man, 61, in­cluded in his pa­per­work a lengthy let­ter he says the woman, 26, wrote about her ex­pe­ri­ence with him, start­ing with their May 2009 meet­ing at the Jazz Gallery in Man­hat­tan.

The woman was 17 at the time, while Cole­man (photo) was 52 and a ris­ing star in the mu­sic world who would go on to win a MacArthur ge­nius grant in 2014.

He said the woman sent the let­ter filled with “false” al­le­ga­tions to sev­eral of their col­leagues, caus­ing some fel­low mu­si­cians to turn their backs on him. “(Her) ac­tions were ma­li­cious in na­ture, taken solely to dam­age (Cole­man’s) rep­u­ta­tion and ca­reer,” his law­suit states.

An as­pir­ing sax­o­phon­ist her­self, the woman re­called in the let­ter that she was a fan who was “ea­ger” to meet Cole­man and learn more about his renowned im­pro­vi­sa­tional style.

She said Cole­man first hit on her dur­ing their sec­ond les­son to­gether. “(He) told me straight up that he wanted to have sex with me. I was shocked. I had NO idea some­one who’s in their fifties and who’s widely con­sid­ered a great mu­si­cian can say some­thing like that to a 17-year old girl,” she wrote.

Ac­cord­ing to her let­ter, the woman re­buffed Cole­man at first but con­tin­ued to seek his tute­lage as they fell into a flir­ta­tious dy­namic. She claimed he once took pic­tures of her sleep­ing and showed them to her, caus­ing her to feel un­easy.

She de­scribed one par­tic­u­larly dis­turb­ing in­ter­ac­tion in which Cole­man al­legedly asked for a chest mas­sage, af­ter she turned 18.

“When I re­fused he got re­ally an­gry with me, telling me again that I was up­tight, that I was brain­washed into think­ing that so­ci­ety had rules. He said many times that peo­ple like Char­lie Parker knew not to fol­low these rules,” she wrote.

She claimed Cole­man told her she had to be­come more “re­laxed” and “break so­cial norms” if she wanted to ever be­come a great im­pro­viser.

The woman wrote in the let­ter that she even­tu­ally ended up sleep­ing with Cole­man and at one point felt she was in love with him. But she said she later came to see their on-again-off-again re­la­tion­ship as un­healthy and now be­lieves Cole­man abused his power as a men­tor and mu­sic in­dus­try gate­keeper.

She said Cole­man would hire her for gigs, tours and jobs and then sug­gest she was ob­li­gated to sleep with him.

“On tour I would have to sleep with him at the end of the day lest (he) be ab­so­lutely an­gry and some­times refuse to re­hearse the band the next day,” she wrote. “He would re­lent­lessly ask me to have sex with him and told me that was the rea­son I was there, even though I had been hired like ev­ery­one else.”

The woman said she even­tu­ally be­came sui­ci­dal and de­cided to quit work­ing with Cole­man af­ter a tour in late 2016. In 2017, she be­came a found­ing mem­ber of the We Have Voice Col­lec­tive, and two months af­ter that, she al­legedly made “veiled threats” against Cole­man on Face­book, his 11page law­suit says.

Cole­man ve­he­mently de­nies ma­nip­u­lat­ing the woman and is seek­ing at least $1 mil­lion in dam­ages.

He de­scribes the prior re­la­tion­ship as “mu­tu­ally con­sen­sual” and sug­gests the woman was up­set that he did not leave his wife for her.

He even claims that on April 4, 2012, the woman pro­posed in an email that they en­gage in a “three way sex­ual re­la­tion­ship” with Cole­man’s wife.

At­tempts to reach the woman were not im­me­di­ately suc­cess­ful Thurs­day.

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