Meghan Linsey, the former Steel Magnolia vocalist who was runner-up on NBC’s The Voice in 2015, shared a Facebook post earlier this week in which she chillingly recalled being the victim of a sexual assault in 2010 by “a very powerful man in the music business.” The lengthy post was inspired by last week’s release of a 2005 audiotape of an explicit conversation between GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and then-Access Hollywood correspondent Billy Bush, in which Trump is heard bragging about groping women. Trump later dismissed his comments as “locker room talk.”
But that wasn’t good enough for Linsey. “THIS is why Donald Trump’s comments are so upsetting,” she writes. “This is why it’s not just ‘locker room talk.’ Because at the end of the day, it’s NOT just talk. This is rape culture, where powerful men sexually assault women and get away with it because of ‘who they are.’ Donald Trump is one of those men.”
Linsey recalled her own incident without naming names.
“When I was touring with Steel Magnolia in 2010, a very powerful man in the music business grabbed up my skirt,” she writes. “He was groping me and proceeded to try to pick me up by my ass on a bus in front of a lot of important people. I was mortified and told him not to touch me and to put me down. It caused quite a scene and I could tell that he was embarrassed and angry.”
The following night, the singer alleges, the same man “came up behind me and whispered in my ear … ‘I have boats bigger than you could ever imagine, and I could put you in the middle of the ocean where no one would ever hear from you again. Just remember that.’ He laughed and walked away.”
Although she informed her manager and the head of her record label of the incident, Linsey says she was told by both “to never breathe a word of that story to anyone ever … They both said if I wanted to have a career in country music then I could never say anything about it out loud, to anyone.”
Linsey adds that she had already decided not to vote for Trump “because I love my African-American friends, my LGBT friends, my Muslim friends, my Hispanic friends … But hearing his comments in that tape started to make it even more personal for me. It made me feel like I wanted to vomit, because it reminded me of the many times I’ve been compromised as a woman.”
The eclectic singer, who released the uplifting pop single “Sunshine in My Soul” in 2015, told Rolling Stone Country at the time, “I wanted to write about what I’ve been through. I haven’t always been confident. I’m still not always confident. I struggle with feeling balanced and good enough … I’ve been through some hard stuff, and I’ve come out on the other side and am stronger than ever.”
Also in 2015, Linsey was among the performers at openly gay country singer Ty Herndon’s first annual Concert for Love and Acceptance in Nashville, in support of the LGBT community.
“Rape culture has to stop, racism has to end, discrimination against the LGBT community can no longer stand,” she goes on to write. “If you are calling it ‘locker room talk’ or ‘just what men do’ or saying ‘it was 11 years ago’ or ‘he was just trying to sound cool while talking to a young reporter,’ then YOU are a HUGE part of the problem … Real men don’t talk like that, real men don’t sexually assault and rape women. Period.”
On Monday, it was revealed that Trump had disparaged singer Emily West, who appeared in a 2010 episode of Celebrity Apprentice. In a transcript from the episode, Trump degrades West’s appearance, in particular her skin, saying, “Her skin sucks… she needs some serious fuckin’ dermatology.”
“Obviously, I was hurt and kind of grossed out, but it didn’t surprise me to be honest,” West tells Rolling Stone Country. “I feel really bad for him, because he doesn’t know how the human heart works. You can’t say things like that to people and then one day expect to win; your character is going to show up. I would really like to believe in good character when it comes to voting for my president. I don’t ever expect to vote for a character.”