A federal appeals court has rebuffed efforts of a former publicist for soul singer James Brown to bring a sexual harassment suit against him.

A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that the statute of limitations had run out before Jacque Hollander filed her lawsuit against the so-called Godfather of Soul.

Hollander claimed that Brown raped her at gunpoint in 1988 when she was employed by him and threatened to have her killed if she told anyone.

Brown's attorneys have denied the allegation.

Hollander later developed a thyroid condition and was told by her doctor that the alleged rape was the cause.

She filed suit against Brown and his company, Brown Enterprises Inc., in January 2005, saying the two-year statute of limitations didn't apply because she learned of her disease 12 years after the alleged incident.

The appeals court said this week in a 12-page opinion written by Judge Kenneth F. Ripple that U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier was correct in throwing out the suit in June 2005 on grounds it was 15 years too late.

According to the law, the two-year statute of limitations starts running as soon as the victim learns that an injury, such as rape, has been inflicted, the opinion said.

"It may well be that Ms. Hollander, like many victims of traumatic injury, only gradually came to understand the full extent of her injuries," it said. But it said she knew she was injured immediately.