Kara DioGuardi: I Was Molested As a Child

In Kara Dioguardi’s memoir, A Helluva High Note, due out April 26, the biggest bombshells won’t have anything to do with her 2 year stint as a judge on American Idol.

The hit songwriter, whose new show Platinum Hit debuts on Bravo May 30, reveals that she was molested as a child, and date raped by a well-known music producer.

As an 11 year old, she was repeatedly molested by a family friend’s son who was in his late teens. “On one particular day, he took me into the back shed of his house and put his hands all over my breasts and vagina,” she writes. “I remember freezing and not knowing what to do.”

Around 2000, when her career was taking off, a “fairly known producer” date-raped her after having what she thought was a friendly dinner. “[W]ithin a few hours, he was on top of me, pumping, sweating, and speaking to me in Spanish, not a word of which I could understand,” she writes.

She repeatedly told him to stop, but didn’t fight harder because she feared he’d become violent.  She kept the horrific incident to herself, afraid the producer would ruin her career.

If that wasn’t enough, a few years later, a “hugely successful artist” repeatedly harassed her.  Kara was invited to a three-day songwriting trip. But instead of working, she writes, “the trip’s activities consisted of watching Russian porn, scavenging around the kitchen for food [and] leering at two strippers…as they performed sex acts in the living room.”

She eventually walked away from working with the artist after he chased her around the basement of his suburban home and forced her hand on his privates.

On her split with American Idol?  Realizing she was on shaky ground after learning on the internet that her job was on shaky ground, Kara asked producers to let her out of her contract. “I wanted a child and there was no way I could get pregnant under the stress of eighteen-hour work days and live TV,” she writes, adding, “I had undergone three unsuccessful rounds of IVF during Season 9.”

“Leaving was painful and there will always be a part of me that wanted to stay,” she writes. “But my desire to be in control of my destiny was larger than my need to be a household name.”

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Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted.I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!
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  • http://mollyblogsidol.wordpress.com Molly (aka sparklesgirl2)

    Poor Kara. I am a counseling intern working with adults and children who have experienced sexual assault and sexual abuse, and this news truly is unfortunate. However, while I am of course very sorry that Kara endured their horrible traumas, she can be a spokesperson for the prevalence of these societal problems. With someone as famous as Kara coming forward, perhaps others will begin to come forward with their stories, receive help, and heal.

  • http://twitter.com/cara_lee pj

    How horrible. But by not coming forward and naming names, she sets other women up for the same treatment. :-(

    ETA: I am NOT trying to blame the victim. But if she feels comfortable talking about it in a book, then maybe she should reveal who she’s talking about. Is there a statute of limitation in these cases? You know these asshats will repeat these actions on others.

  • http://mollyblogsidol.wordpress.com Molly (aka sparklesgirl2)

    http://www.rainn.org/public-policy/sexual-assault-issues/state-statutes-of-limitations — website discussing statutes of limitation for sexual assault/abuse cases. In Illinois, it’s something like 20 years after the person turns 18 if it’s childhood sexual abuse (or, if the person repressed their memories, a certain amount of time from when the memory was recovered). But for just adult sexual assault, it’s just like any other felony statute of limitation–3 years, it sounds like.

    I do think it’d be helpful for Kara to reveal more information, but if the perpetrators have a lot of clout, it could spell danger for Kara’s career and for her life if she announces their names in a book. Still, I hope she pursues legal action so that sex offenses are not committed once again by these people.

    Sorry for the soapbox… this is a passion of mine (and my job)!

  • http://twitter.com/cara_lee pj

    Thanks, Molly. I appreciate your thoughtful response. I just wish it were easier for these creeps to get prosecuted.

  • Shadow_i

    Wow, Kara sure shared things in graphic details there. She’s a talented woman and survived those things apparently. I’ve been looking forward to her new show on bravo. I think I read she finally got pregnant and had a baby. Good for her its so.

  • http://mollyblogsidol.wordpress.com Molly (aka sparklesgirl2)

    Oh, believe me… I know… it’s disgusting how often our criminal justice system fails victims of sexual abuse/assault. :(

  • http://twitter.com/cara_lee pj

    I know children have little recourse. They don’t even understand what’s happening. :-( But for an adult to believe her livelihood would be compromised by coming forth says alot about the music industry and the powers that be. :-(

  • platoken

    Hmm I kinda feel bad now about all the mean stuff I said about her. Though I was never that mean, I just called her annoying, but still.

  • Niall

    Naming names, without prior legal action, could leave her open to a lawsuit. It would be her word against his and he could claim she defamed him.

    I’m glad she came forward. Only by talking about it will the shame go away, and ease the way for other survivors. Good for Kara.

  • songsungblue

    The fact that she went through three rounds of IVF says a lot about how she was considered ‘bitchy.’ Her hormones must have been going INSANE.


  • Grammie Kari

    But for an adult to believe her livelihood would be compromised by coming forth says alot about the music industry and the powers that be.

    You know, I don’t think it is just the music industry, but rather the entertainment arena (from television and music to movies and dance. The abusers will use power and status to get what they want.

    Songsungblue, I do agree with you, but also feel there was a need to please Simon. It is for the best that Kara is no longer on the show. May her dream of having a baby (one way or another) come true.

  • shuey

    MJ::: THIS GOT ME….the topic needed grace!….dont be a ricky! lol…you know what i mean. :P

  • TwigLA

    My heart goes out to Kara. These situations are not confined to the entertainment industry. They are prevalent throughout all occupations and industries.

    I’m sure there will be much speculation on who the Spanish speaking producer was circa 2000 as well as the lech of an artist who chased her around his basement.

  • Nina1

    These situations are not confined to the entertainment industry. They are prevalent throughout all occupations and industries.

    These situations are so common that women should anticipate them and find ways to extricate themselves before starting a career.

  • LoveDaRocker

    File a complaint.
    Using this to sell books is odd.
    You have lots of money. Get a good lawyer and get the bastard(s) the right way.

  • tinawina

    But for an adult to believe her livelihood would be compromised by coming forth says alot about the music industry and the powers that be.

    When I was in my early 20s, I started managing an underground rap group. I was very green and only doing it because we were all friends and I was the only person they felt they could trust.

    Once, we went to a huge conference and met a guy who was A&R at a hot label. We hung out with him for days, he seemed really, really cool and laidback. After the conference he asked me to bring the group’s demo to his office for a meeting. I went alone since it was supposed to be about business.

    When I got there, it was weird from the get go. He asked me to sit in some chairs as opposed to on the other side of his desk. He kept leaning real close to me. His whole demeanor was slightly threatening, more aggressive. He had a female assistant in there too who was looking at me strangely. Then out of nowhere, he plopped his hand on my thigh while listening to the demo tape. I froze. I didn’t know what to do… If I reacted would the group get blackballed? What was I supposed to do? He started saying sexual things to me, and I glanced at his assistant, panicked. She was looking at me with utter contempt like I was some kind of prostitute. I’ll never forget the look on her face.

    He moved his hand further up my thigh and I jumped out of the chair, grabbed the demo tape, said I had to go and left. I was sweating. I was terrified that I had just ruined my group’s career. Afterwards he told several mutual business contacts that I was a lightweight who didn’t know what I was doing and that I tried to sleep my way into a record deal, but he rejected me. So of course I got mad and told everyone who would listen what really happened. LOL. It turned out okay, but when it was happening I had no way of knowing that.

    That stuff happens ALL THE TIME in the entertainment industry. I could tell some more stories about myself, and some of my other female friends at the time. Not everyone was like that but there were definitely some guys/companies where this stuff was notorious for going on. It can get really scary. I am so sorry for Kara, I can certainly believe every word of what she’s saying. I know girls who were cornered in crowded clubs by powerful men and had had to fight their way out. One didn’t make it out and swore me to secrecy about it. I still talk to her sometimes. I wish Kara luck in getting past all of it.

  • http://myspace.com/girlgeek mj

    dont be a ricky! lol…you know what i mean.

    Hmmm… Actually I don’t. lol

  • savgal

    Wow. Very, very sad re: the molestations and the failed IVFs. I am sorry for Kara and it does “soften” her, in my eyes. Hoping she is able to have a baby with her husband, but several friends have built their lovely families by adoption, so there are definitely options for her in that regard.
    I work with new mothers and babies. Past sexual abuse can definitely affect women as they begin childbearing and breastfeeding.

  • ri

    sorry that happened to you, TINAWINA. but i like how you grabbed the demo tape before you left! seriously though, i had a similar experience with a doctor i worked for. it’s not a situation anyone should find themselves in. i hope Kara continues to heal.

  • butterbean

    So sorry to hear this about Kara.

    I know I’m in the minority but I generally liked her on Idol. I thought she gave really insightful feedback (for the most part).

  • sma11ie

    That stuff happens ALL THE TIME in the entertainment industry.

    I totally believe it too. Sorry about what happened to you tinawina. Glad you got out okay. I feel really bad for Kara. The entertainment industry is so scary for girls. Sucks. Hate those scumbags.

    I also generally liked Kara on Idol. Just kept rooting for her to come off better so others would like her more, but alas, it didn’t happen. I’m glad she’s happy about being off though and everything worked out.

  • standtotheright

    Oh, everything sma11ie said. I’m really sorry you had to go through that tinawina.

    I hope DioGuardi found a way to come to terms with everything that has happened to her. It’s a lot of baggage.

  • tinawina

    Oh thanks guys, but don’t feel sorry for me! I just got creepily hit on. I was just trying to show that there is a predatory culture in the entertainment industry. Feel for the girls who don’t get to leave the office – or get caught in a bad spot like Kara and my friend who got violated in the back of a club. I’m just glad I beat his assistant out the room. :D

  • http://mjsbigblog.com/luvadamlamberts-american-idol-tour-2009-washington-dc-re-cap.htm luvadamlambert

    Woah o_0
    I’m so sorry tinawina!!!
    I totally take back ALL the bad stuff I said about Kara!! :O

  • http://twitter.com/cara_lee pj

    Wow, Tinawina. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Sheds some light on stuff for sure.