US boy band Why Don’t We have accused one of their managers of “mental, emotional and financial abuse” by making them “hostages in our own home” and restricting their food.
They claimed the manager, who they didn’t name, “controlled us 24/7”, verbally berated them and led members to develop eating disorders.
David Loeffler, one of their managers, rejected the “untrue, hurtful” claims.
Why Don’t We said they were aged between 15 and 18, and “young, impressionable and trusting” when they formed and started living in the same house.
“Little did we know that we would eventually become prisoners in the ‘Why Don’t We compound’ under the supervision of one of our managers at Signature Entertainment Partners,” they wrote on social media.
“He would not only live with us during the day, but controlled us 24/7, setting an alarm that would go off if any door or window was opened. Needless to say, we were not given the security code to the alarm, essentially making us hostages in our own home.”
They added that their food was “restricted to the point that some band members developed eating disorders”, and they were forced to sneak food into the house.
“We were verbally berated almost every day and alienated from our friends and families,” they added. “We had no support system except for each other and were made to believe that this was ‘normal’, that every artist had to pay their dues.”
The group have had two US top 10 albums, and their statement comes after two former partners of Signature Entertainment sued each other.
Mr Loeffler and music industry veteran Randy Phillips had launched the band’s career, but split up and took legal action against each other last month over the group’s management and control of Signature and another company.
At the time, Mr Phillips’ lawyer Howard King alleged that Mr Loeffler had subjected the group to “years of mental and financial abuse”.
According to Billboard in late August, the group were refusing to sign a recording agreement with Atlantic Records or perform as a group, until Mr Phillips was reinstated as their sole manager.
In a statement at the time, the group’s lawyer Alan Gutman said they “support Randy Phillips the same way he has supported us from the start of our careers”.
On Friday, Mr Loeffler’s lawyer Michael Levin said Signature had profit share agreements with the members of Why Won’t We, which had been “very beneficial for the individual members of WDW”, earning them approximately $10 million in total.
He added: “Recent comments attributed to WDW members are untrue, hurtful, and apparently designed to be part of an ill-advised strategy to evade their obligations under these agreements.
“Signature would certainly welcome a reasonable and amicable resolution of this matter that preserves the mutually beneficial relationship that has helped WDW achieve their great success to date.”