Katherine Alexander ()
When Katherine Alexander met Miami radio executive Jesus Antonio Salas in 2012, she was a music teacher at a private school.
By January, she had a No. 1 hit for three consecutive weeks on Latin music charts with “Put it in a Kiss,” which takes its musical cues from “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” She scored the hit without a record deal or a direct way to purchase the song.
Salas, who calls himself Zeus, got his live-in girlfriend’s song played on the radio as the vice president of programming at Spanish Broadcasting System Inc., the largest publicly traded Hispanic media company in the United States, according to the lawsuit filed by Alexander in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
She accused Salas in a separate domestic violence petition of rape and forcing her to ingest illegal drugs.
In the breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit, Alexander, 23, accused Salas, 39, of cajoling her into signing contracts that assigned all of the profits from her music to him and a producer.
She hired entertainment attorney Richard Wolfe of Wolfe Law Miami.
Salas denies all of the accusations, which surfaced on TMZ.com and Billboard.com last weekend. His attorney, Bill Tunkey, said a detailed response using Alexander’s own words is being assembled to refute the allegations.
Salas told Billboard on Sunday: “The assertions and claims in that suit are false. Testimony and evidence will conclusively establish the false nature of claims in court.”
Tunkey, a partner Robbins Tunkey Ross Amsel Raben & Waxman in Miami, said: “The testimony of mutual friends and the actual written words of Ms. Alexander will demonstrate beyond doubt that Jesus Salas is innocent of each and every one of these slanderous and malicious claims. Each and every one. False. Malicious.”
Wolfe said in the civil suit Alexander is seeking to rescind onerous contracts that she believes are unenforceable. The suit also names as a defendant Ramon Gonzalez, who is accused in the suit of being a front for Gold Voice, a company that claims to have the exclusive rights to her services and 110 percent of her income.
“We are looking for damages,” Wolfe said. “Her career is tied up with these people for years. She can’t do anything. She can’t even perform. They own her exclusive services.”
Wolfe stressed he is interested in his client’s safety in seeking a permanent injunction requiring Salas to stay at least 500 feet away from her.
Alexander’s rise is a story that speaks to the power of Latin radio generally and Salas in particular.
The couple met when Alexander, a classically trained opera singer, taught music to Salas’ daughter. Alexander told Salas she wanted to be a Latin pop star, and the two started dating.
“Salas holds himself out to the music industry under the godlike name of Zeus,” the lawsuit states. “Salas told Alexander he would easily make her a ‘star’ simply by exercising his considerable influence as Zeus, the almighty program director who controls the programming of many Latin music radio stations owned by SBS.”
Salas certainly lived up to his nickname in getting airplay for Alexander’s first recording, “Put it in a Kiss,” Wolfe said.
Put It In A Kiss
“Put it in a Kiss” jumped 30 percent in early January to 11.5 million audience impressions, according to Nielsen BDS.
Wolfe said the rights to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” were not obtained by Salas, and he had a conflict between his position at SBS and his financial stake in the hit song being played on its station.
A call to SBS for comment was not returned by deadline.
The lawsuit states Salas told Alexander she had to sign her rights over to him and Gold Voice and Salas used Gonzalez as a beard to keep his ownership stake in Alexander through the company a secret.
Things turned ugly between the couple shortly after the song went No. 1 when Salas started forcing Alexander to have sex with him against her will, according to the sworn petition for protection from domestic violence filed June 10 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
“The respondent forced her to performed sexual actions against her will, and if she refused he threatened harm and held her against her will. He also threatened to harm her career,” the petition staters.
The petition also said Salas forced her to take drugs and once placed a plastic bag over her face and held her down.
Alexander accused Salas in the petition of cyber-bullying, hacking her Facebook and Twitter accounts, creating a false Instagram account with her photos and forwarding explicit photos of her.
Wolfe said his client is a child of two police officers who were swept up by Salas and his promises of fame.
“She is a very quiet and reserved family girl,” Wolfe said. “She has never got into trouble, and he just corrupted her.”