American Idol's Kara DioGuardi date-raped by music producer. Is sexual misconduct an industry epidemic?

Kara DioGuardi is opening up about her painful past during her early years in the music industry. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)Kara DioGuardi is opening up about her painful past during her early years in the music …

For ex 'American Idol' judge Kara DioGuardi, the road to success in the music industry has been paved with sexual assault. In her new memoir, One Helluva High Note, the TV star recounts being date-raped by a "fairly known" music producer.

"She repeatedly told him to stop, but didn't try to fight him because she was too scared he'd become violent," reports EOnline. "She never told anyone about the horrific incident because she feared he would ruin her career."

That wasn't the last terrifying encounter she'd have working as a label executive, producer, and songwriter in music's notorious boy's club. She also opens up about a recording artist who invited her on a three day songwriting trip only to subject her to porn and stripper marathons. After his repeated attempts to convince DioGuardi to fondle him she walked away from the gig.

In an industry plagued by gender inequity and harassment allegations, DioGuardi's experiences are hardly surprising. In 1991, the Los Angeles Times reported that at least three major record companies were dealing with sexual misconduct allegations. In recent years, several female industry execs have come forward with their own accounts of mistreatment.

Alison Hussey, a consultant and 20-year veteran of the music business, revealed in a 2009 Guardian article, that a "well-known member of the music glitterati" said "if I slept with him he would sign my artist."

Another label executive, who remains unnamed, experienced assault on tour. "I once had a horrific incident with a band member who thought it was OK to push me up against the side of a tour bus," she told The Independent. "You go along thinking that you are being respected for the work you're doing and then that happens."

Part of what's kept the industry suspended in a 'Mad Men' era of sexism is a marked gender imbalance. While female recording artists top the Billboard charts, women working behind the scenes are far scarcer. It's been estimated less than 5 percent of producers and engineers working industry-wide are female. "I think that's generous," Terri Winston, founder and executive director of Women's Audio Mission, told the publication Nashville Scene. "To be honest, I think it's a lot less than that."

In 2010, PRS for Music Foundation, a non-profit designed to explore the gender gap in the industry, highlighted the problems women behind the scenes. "One phrase that sticks in my mind was that it's an obstacle course for women, whether dealing with the challenges of maintaining a family life or battling with the broader assumptions being made about women, that they are expected to be the fronting performers rather than the intelligent composers behind the scenes," Vanessa Reed, executive director of the charity, revealed in last year's Independent article on women in music.

That lack of respect translates to some tough choices for victims of abuse. DioGuardi didn't report her assaulter out of fear of blacklisting. Trina Shoemaker, the first woman to win a Grammy for engineering, described the attitude she adapted in a culture of misconduct. "I was like, 'Eh, that's nice you wanted to grab my ass, and you just did grab my ass, but once you leave.... I'm going to teach myself to edit tonight, after you grabbed my ass," she told Nashville Scene.

In 2011, multiple allegations of harassment and assault by leading male music producers and managers continue to surface. But that doesn't seem to deter sexual predators from keeping their stronghold in the field. After his violent assault on pop star Rihanna, Chris Brown should have been banned from the music industry. Instead he's been supported by enough label executives and fellow artists to continue making albums as if nothing ever happened.

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