I will never forget the day my story went viral worldwide. While the world was treating it as a tabloid puff piece, I knew in my heart that this was a serious political story. I also knew I had to get my story out, all of it. There was no way that what I was subjected to in the legal system was actually acceptable or something that should be tolerated by anybody.
The Plaintiff, who had me locked into the legal system to the tune of $3200 at this point suddenly offered to drop it under the conditions that I never speak about it again. I knew I would be taking this story into the political arena, where it belonged. A gag order simply wouldn’t work, as I knew I would be going to Capital Hill to speak about this. To add insult to injury, he only agreed to pay half of my legal fees. Nope. I wanted him to take full responsibility. After all, it was 100% his choice to drag a complete stranger into the legal system, so 100% accountability on his part was a given, as far as I was concerned.
A friend dropped me a line telling me that a lawyer friend of his was willing to take my case on pro bono. The lawyer called me up I told him the situation, that Bonfante wanted out but was only willing to pay my half legal fees and wanted me to agree to a gag order.I found this unbelievably insulting.
“Great” he said, “You pay your half, he’ll pay his…and we’ll have you sign the confidentiality agreement”.
I explained to the lawyer that I expected the Plaintiff to take full responsibility for putting me in this situation. I also told him I would be working to change the laws so this couldn’t happen again (I had not yet connected with The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York on “Collette’s Law”… I had no idea how I was going to go about doing this, I just knew I was going to).
“It’s never going to happen”, he said. “You shouldn’t be focusing on the legal system. You’ll never change it. You should be focusing on singing. After all your window’s closing as a singer… and the media is done with this story no one is ever going to write about this again.”
“I guess you didn’t see my piece in xoJane this week”, I said to this well meaning but stuck-in-the-dark-ages lawyer. “One of the first things I mention is that no one gets to tell me my window is closing”.
I then politely thanked him for his time. He meant well, but I was starting to develop a zero tolerance policy for age shaming. That is when I decided I wanted to record “42”, my debut solo album.
Every time someone tells me I can’t do it, it fired me up that much more. Every time the Plaintiff insults me in court documents, I am more determined to change the system.