Hipgnosis Songs Group CEO Kenny MacPherson has been placed on leave, the company confirms to Rolling Stone, a day after the publishing executive was accused of sexually assaulting a former colleague nearly two decades ago when he was president of music publishing company Chrysalis.
“Hipgnosis Songs Fund has a policy of zero-tolerance to harassment or abuse,” the company said in a statement. “While the company is not a defendant to these historic allegations which relate to a period 15 years before Hipgnosis was founded, Kenny MacPherson was placed on leave of absence from Hipgnosis Songs Group as soon as it became aware of the allegations. Our rigorous procedures for dealing with such matters have commenced.”
Travis Gemoets, MacPherson’s attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But on Wednesday, MacPherson denied the allegations through Gemoets . “On behalf of my client Mr. MacPherson, we vehemently deny all allegations made against Mr. MacPherson in Ms. Lewis’ unverified complaint filed earlier today,” he said.
As Rolling Stone first reported on Wednesday, Sara Lewis, a former A&R who worked under MacPherson at Chrysalis from 2004 to 2008, sued MacPherson and Chrysalis’s owner BMG, alleging that MacPherson sexually assaulted her in her hotel room during a business trip in 2005 and sexually harassed her numerous times before and after the alleged assault. After she reported the allegations to her direct supervisor Jamie Cerreta — who has worked with MacPherson for years and is also now a Hipgnosis executive — she claimed she was blacklisted and was forced to leave the music business.
“I left with my tail between my legs. Kenny took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time,, my intimacy, my voice, my laughter, my trust,” Lewis told Rolling Stone after she filed the lawsuit. “My career was probably one of the least concerning things in the context of what Kenny stole away from me. Fifteen years later, you move through life, I’m always guarded. I’m always ready to defend myself and I’m always ready to be angry. That’s not something that a Band-Aid heals.”
Hipgnosis has become one of the most prominent music companies in the business, helping push the catalog acquisition boom of the past several years as it purchased copyrights from songwriters and artists like Mark Ronson, Justin Bieber and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It bought MacPherson’s Big Deal music publishing company in 2020, renaming the company Hipgnosis Songs Group. BMG is the largest music company in the world outside of the Big Three record labels, overseeing the musical works of artists including Tina Turner, John Legend and Motley Crue. BMG bought Chrysalis in 2010.
The suit listed several causes of action against both MacPherson and BMG including sexual battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, discrimination, various labor violations and a hostile work environment.
In a statement on Wednesday, BMG said it “stands solidly against all forms of discrimination and abuse, and we are shocked and dismayed by the allegations. As a point of fact, BMG did not exist until October 1, 2008, years after the alleged events had taken place, and did not acquire Chrysalis until years later in 2011.”