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Singer-songwriter Don McLean’s daughter has accused her father of emotionally abusing her for decades at the family’s home in Camden, comparing her childhood to living in a cult.
It’s the latest accusation of abuse leveled against the musician, who pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges in a Maine court in 2016. As part of a plea agreement, two of the six charges were dropped, as well as the assault charge if he committed no crimes in the next year.
Jackie McLean’s childhood home, hidden atop a nearly mile-long driveway in the coastal Maine town, was the scene for the “psychological warfare” she endured, she told Rolling Stone magazine.
Her father cultivated a cult-like atmosphere, she alleges, creating a self-image of a powerful, seemingly supernatural leader who is all-knowing. Pleasing her father felt like the key to her survival.
“There was a constant state of fear in the house about the slightest thing [that] would make my dad turn into a crazy person,” she told the magazine.
One of the earliest traumatic events occurred when she was about 2 years old, she said. Don couldn’t find the key to a piece of furniture and allegedly began screaming at his daughter.
“I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t say anything,” said Jackie, now 31 years old. “I didn’t know where the key was and I was just trapped in that moment having to endure the fear and the trauma until it ended.”
Jackie said her father was never physically abusive.
A pattern of manipulation and abuse by Don was shown through emails and recordings of calls provided to Rolling Stone. The messages also show the singer’s attempt to maintain a certain public image, according to the magazine.
The 75-year-old singer denied all allegations of abuse in an interview with Rolling Stone, claiming that Patrisha McLean, his ex-wife and Jackie’s mother, was always around and that he would never attack anybody.
“I don’t understand what mental and emotional abuse is,” McLean told the magazine. “If I yelled at you for five minutes, you’d think I yelled at you for an hour, because it’s shocking. I would snap sometimes; I did have a temper. ”