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Win Butler, the lead singer and instrumentalist for Arcade Fire, denied allegations that he sexually abused three women and assaulted a nonbinary person, claiming that the encounters were consensual.
On Saturday, the online music news site Pitchfork published a story detailing the allegations. Three women who were fans of the indie rock group accused Butler of making unwanted sexual advances and demands between 2016 and 2020 in interactions that they deemed inappropriate because of gaps in age and unequal power dynamics. A fourth person claimed that Butler sexually assaulted them in a car and at their home in 2015 when they were 21 and he was 34.
In a lengthy statement about the article, Butler confirmed that he had relationships with the four individuals and said his wife and fellow bandmate, Régine Chassagne, was aware of the extramarital affairs. But while acknowledging that he has exercised “poor judgment” and made “mistakes,” Butler said the sexual interactions reported by the publication were “mutual and always between consenting adults.”
“I have never touched a woman against her will, and any implication that I have is simply false,” Butler said in the statement. “I vehemently deny any suggestion that I forced myself on a woman or demanded sexual favors. That simply, and unequivocally, never happened.”
Still, he apologized, saying he was sorry to anyone he has hurt with his behavior. In the statement, which was released by crisis public relations firm Risa Heller Communications, Butler, 42, alluded to struggles with his mental health and a past of childhood abuse. He also said he dealt with depression and drinking in his 30s after his family experienced a miscarriage.
The firm also provided a statement from Chassagne, who said she has watched her husband “suffer through immense pain,” but rejected the claims that he sexually abused the four individuals.
“I know what is in his heart, and I know he has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent and I am certain he never did,” she said. “He has lost his way and he has found his way back. I love him and love the life we have created together.”
In the report, Pitchfork used pseudonyms for the accusers, reviewed messages between them and Butler, and interviewed friends and family members who told the publication they recalled hearing about the allegations. Throughout the story, the site included responses from Butler in which he provided contrasting accounts of the specific incidents.
In one incident, the nonbinary person, identified as Lily, told the site that Butler showed up at their apartment even though they repeatedly told him not to come. When Butler arrived, “he pinned me up against the wall and was aggressively grabbing my body and sticking his tongue down my throat,” Lily said.
Butler acknowledged that they had said they were busy, but said that he stopped by anyway “to just say hi.” He recalled that when they opened the door, the two started kissing. “I don’t remember who initiated it, but it was definitely mutual,” he told Pitchfork.
Two of the women said the alleged abuse had an emotional toll in part due to the transactional nature of their sexual interactions with Butler. One of them said that following a sexual encounter in her bedroom, she attempted suicide.
“I felt incredibly low,” the woman told Pitchfork. “The toll of having to keep everything secret, constantly pushing my needs aside in order to appease him, lack of boundaries, and the guilt of being the other woman was getting too hard to ignore.”
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