Singer Brown Cleared in $1M Lawsuit
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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The jury in a $1 million lawsuit against James Brown ruled Tuesday that the singer did not sexually harass a former employee but that his company wrongfully fired her.
The Superior Court jury was expected to begin deliberating Wednesday on how much to award Lisa Ross Agbalaya in damages.
The 36-year-old mother of three claimed that the soul singer grabbed her by the hips and pulled her toward him when she visited his Georgia home in 1999. At the time, she was president of the West Coast office of James Brown Enterprises. The seven-year employee said she was fired after rebuffing Brown’s advances.
The 68-year-old Godfather of Soul testified he never touched Agbalaya, explaining, ``She’s a married woman and I wouldn’t do that.″ He said Agbalaya was laid off after he closed his West Coast office because it was not making money.
Brown was not in court for the verdict, but his lawyer Debra Opri notified him by phone at his South Carolina home.
``He feels good. He wants you all to know he’s feeling real good today,″ the attorney said after talking to Brown. ``This reaffirms his long-standing belief that the justice system is alive and well.″
Agbalaya, who was in court, appeared downcast after the verdict.
``The bottom line is I know what James Brown did, and he knows what he did,″ she said. ``I felt like I would have lost if I had said nothing.″
In closing arguments, Opri told the jury that Agbalaya concocted the story to get Brown’s money.