Dancers Sue 7M Films Claiming Owner Runs a ‘Cult’
Three dancers who previously worked with the controversial church-aligned company 7M Films are suing their previous talent manager and pastor. Aubrey Fisher-Greene, Kylie Douglas, and Kevin “Konkrete” Davis have joined four other complainants in accusing 7M owner and pastor of the Santa Ana–based Shekinah Church Robert Shinn of running a “cult” and taking advantage of his followers. The filing names Shinn, 7M, and Shekinah, along with 17 other entities and individuals.
“Shekinah is a cult operating under the guise of a religious institution,” reads the cross-complaint, accepted in court on Tuesday. “Robert refers to himself as ‘the Man of God’ and preaches to Shekinah members and that [sic] without submitting to him and without Shekinah, their lives will be cursed. Robert required full physical and economic and control [sic] over Shekinah members.”
An attorney for Shinn did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment on the new filing. In 2022, 7M denied asserting undue influence over its dancers or taking advantage of them to Rolling Stone.
The filing is part of an ongoing lawsuit initiated when Shinn filed his own complaint in October 2022 against a former church member, claiming she’d extorted and defamed him. (That defendant has denied the allegations and is countersuing Shinn in the cross-complaint.) This represents the first legal action taken by dancers against the company and its leadership since allegations surfaced a year ago about alleged “cult”-like management practices within the company, whose high-gloss dance videos draw thousands to millions of views on TikTok. The 7M dancers in the complaint were also members of Shekinah, the Santa Ana-based church where Shinn serves as pastor. (The filing, a cross-complaint to the earlier lawsuit, was filed most recently on Friday as an exhibit to a declaration, and was approved by the judge in the case on Tuesday.)
According to the cross-complaint, Shinn exercised control over his church members’ lives and asked them to give large amounts of money to him. He deployed “deputies” — called “mentors” and “sub-mentors” — to exert control over their fellow church members, the filing states. These deputies “did his bidding including collecting tithes from other members, moving money from members’ bank accounts, instructing members where to live, and instructing members on how to spend nearly every waking moment of their time,” according to the filing. The cross-complaint alleges Shinn even interfered with members’ healthcare, claiming he sent members to a Covid vaccine clinic where a Shekinah member working there “pretended to shoot cross-complainants with the vaccine, but just squirted it onto their arms.”
Shinn allegedly instructed members to apply for Covid relief funds, eventually collecting $100,000 that the filing claims went to Shinn’s corporations, rather than to church members. “Robert Shinn lives a life of luxury from the tithes he collects from Shekinah’s members,” the cross-complaint states. “Most of Robert’s wealth was built on the backs of the free labor or excessive fees from Shekinah members.”
In March 2022, Rolling Stone reported on allegations that began circulating in social media comments that the company was a “cult” that isolated dancers from their families and friends and controlled their finances. Multiple sources told Rolling Stone at the time that 7M dancers they knew had started acting strangely and refused to socialize with them the way they had before they began working with the company.
At that time, none of the dancers represented by 7M responded to Rolling Stone’s requests for interviews. Now, three dancers who left the company have joined the lawsuit, and two of them spoke with Rolling Stone about their decision to bring action against Shinn and his businesses. “Even though we were only in there for two years, it’s still two years of our life that we spent battling to give full attention to [Shinn] and his church,” hip-hop dancer Kylie Douglas, who worked with 7M between 2020 and 2022, tells Rolling Stone. “We just no longer want him to be able to do that to anyone: the brainwashing, the manipulating, running people down — giving their time, giving their effort, giving their money, giving all they got for something that is a false hope.” (All of these allegations are laid out in the filing.)
Douglas’ boyfriend of five years, Aubrey Fisher-Greene, a “krump” street dancer, brought her into Shekinah and 7M and left shortly after she did. Fisher-Greene joined the church in fall 2020, before he began working with 7M that November. “7M almost immediately took control of Aubrey’s business,” the cross-complaint states, noting that Shinn had church members set up a corporation for Fisher-Greene and assigned someone to do his taxes. When Fisher, who has 2 million TikTok followers, booked gigs, 7M collected payment on his behalf, and oftentimes took a 20 percent cut before giving him his earnings, the filing claims. He allegedly later learned 7M was also collecting a management fee from the brands that hired him.
The filing claims 7M took money from Fisher through several other avenues. He was stiffed $6,000 for a song-promotion project in April 2022, according to the filing, and he was charged “high fees” for videography by other Shekinah members. It also alleges he donated more than 10 percent of his income to Shekinah, at Shinn’s encouragement. Fisher-Greene tells Rolling Stone Shekinah members were taught, “the more you give, the more you receive.” The cross-complaint states, “Towards the end of his time with Shekinah, Aubrey started to feel a sense of emptiness and like Robert and others in Shekinah were keeping secrets.” He left the church and stopped working with 7M in August 2022.
While Douglas and Fisher-Greene tell Rolling Stone they were not technically forbidden from communicating with loved ones outside the church, they say it was “discouraged.” When she visited family for holidays or other occasions, the filing alleges, her mentor in the church told her in front of other members that she was “sucking on her momma’s titties.” The cross-complaint claims Douglas’ mentor also constantly urged her to clear her schedule for Shekinah, and “yelled at” her when she insisted on having her taxes done for free by her family friend rather than paying a church member $200 to do them.
The cross-complaint also states that Shinn “yelled at” Douglas and Fisher-Greene during a church service because they had declined an offer to move into a rental house Shinn owned. “He used Aubrey and Kylie as an example of members who were not properly ‘submitted’ to Shekinah and God,” according to the filing.
According to the cross-complaint, 7M withheld jobs from Douglas, and controlled which of her fellow 7M dancers she could work with and when she could post videos. “Kylie was instructed to wait to post videos until dancers with more followers had posted to get all the attraction to their pages,” the complaint states, claiming these requirements “stunted” her growth on social media.
In an incident the cross-complaint describes as “the last straw,” Douglas also claims Shinn offered to crack her back for her at the gym, “but then started hip thrusting into her from behind.” For that incident, she brought a cause of action for sexual battery against Shinn. Because Shinn was so “highly regarded,” the filing states, she did not tell anyone about the incident, including Fisher-Greene, until she left, but she has since filed a police report against Shinn, according to the cross-complaint.
Another dancer, Kevin “Konkrete” Davis, also joined the cross-complaint with claims similar to those of Douglas and Fisher-Greene. He claims 7M took 20 percent of his brand deals after telling him they’d only take 15, and that they failed to compensate him for choreographing a film for Shekinah. He also claims he gave 30 percent of his income to the church in donations and that he did construction work for the church on one of its properties — for which he was never paid. A few months after joining, Davis grew uncomfortable with church policies. He left Shekinah and 7M in July 2022.
7M first drew national attention in early 2022, after the family of TikTok-famous dancer Miranda Derrick posted a tearful video on Instagram saying Derrick had joined 7M and its associated church, and had stopped communicating with them. “Miranda is a part of a religious group, and she’s not allowed to speak to us,” her sister Melanie Wilking said in the video, sitting on a sofa, flanked by their parents. Before Derrick joined 7M and married her then-boyfriend James “BDash” Derrick, the Wilking sisters had found success dancing on TikTok, garnering more than 2 million followers by 2020.
Through an attorney at the time, 7M said Derrick’s estrangement from her parents was the result of a family dispute. Derrick, BDash, and some other 7M dancers issued statements or posted videos in the weeks following the Wilking family’s video, denying their allegations against 7M. Derrick and her husband continue to work with the company and have in the past year occasionally posted images from visits with Miranda’s family.
As Rolling Stone reported last March, Robert Shinn, the owner of 7M, is also the pastor of Shekinah Church. According to court documents, he founded the church in 1994, after immigrating to the U.S. from Toronto. In court documents, Shinn describes the church as a “small and tight-knit group of Christian believers committed to spreading their religious message through peaceful religious study and outreach,” but the organization has faced backlash in the past. In 2009, former Shekinah member Lydia Chung sued Shinn for fraud and labor laws violations. Chung claimed Shinn “exerted undue influence, mind control, coercive persuasion, oppression and other intimidating tactics” over her to get her to give the church $3.8 million. She further claimed that she’d been forced to work six days a week, unpaid. Shinn successfully rebuffed Chung’s claims, and a judge ruled in Shinn’s favor.
Last October, according to filings in Los Angeles Superior Court, Shinn sued two former members of his church, along with three moderators of social media accounts that have shared allegations of wrongdoing about Shinn and his businesses, including 7M. The suit frames one former church member as a spurned lover of Shinn’s who turned bitter when he ended their affair and tried to extort him before joining with online moderators to defame him. Shinn also sued three moderators of social media accounts that claim to expose Shinn, 7M, and Shekinah’s wrongdoing. All have denied the allegations.
As for this new filing, Fisher-Greene suggests some people might be mad at him for taking a stand against Shinn and 7M. Still, he hopes joining the lawsuit will get more people to leave Shinn’s company and church. “I don’t want my friends in there anymore,” he says. “I don’t want anybody to be around this person. If they hate or love me or whatever, it doesn’t even matter. I just don’t want them to be a part of that environment.”
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