As the Arcade Fire tour kicked off in Dublin on Tuesday night, lead singer of the Canadian band Win Butler denied allegations of sexual assault made by four people on music site Pitchfork.
On Saturday, Pitchfork published the testimonies, anonymized, of three women reporting « sexual interactions with Butler which they deemed inappropriate given the age gaps, power dynamics and the context in which they occurred », writes the online media that the three were “devoted” fans of the indie rock band, aged 18 to 23 when the facts they denounce began. The singer and guitarist of the group had him, from 36 to 39.
« Stella », who was 18 in 2016, says she was contacted by the singer, who was 36, via Instagram. He would have sent her messages and photos of a sexual nature, which she had not requested. To a friend, on Facebook, she wrote in February 2016 “Win butler asked me for nudes and tried to sext me. And I told him that I was really uncomfortable with that. I don’t really know what to do now. He keeps texting me.
Again and again « . The exchanges continue despite his refusal and the young woman claims to have blocked two of the singer’s phone numbers. Her Instagram posts also became less frequent towards the end of 2016, she says. In September 2017, she attended an Arcade Fire show from the guest box. She “wanted to at least get something out of this relationship,” she admits.
A fourth alleged victim, a non-binary person, who was 21 in 2015, claims to have been sexually assaulted by the singer, who was 34. Win Butler allegedly slipped his hand down his pants during a car ride. Or put his hand on his crotch. He/she would have signified his/her embarrassment, Butler claims that the « not in the car » response sounded like a flirt. Arrived at this fan’s apartment, « I opened my door and he pushed me against the wall and grabbed my body aggressively and put his tongue in my mouth », says “Lily”, her pseudonym. “Lily” then explains that the singer allegedly put his hand down his pants again without his consent inside the alleged victim’s apartment.
“Although these relationships were all consensual, I am very sorry”
In a lengthy response prepared with the help of a crisis communications expert, the singer confirmed he had sex with the four people making the allegations, but claims they were consenting. “I have never touched a woman against her will,” defended Win Butler, in a press release sent to Pitchfork on Saturday.
“Although these relationships were all consensual, I am truly sorry for all those whom I have hurt by my behavior,” adds the artist who mentions having gone through depression and alcohol problems.
Co-founder of the group and wife of Win Butler, Montrealer Régine Chassagne, assures that « he would never touch a woman without her consent, and I am sure he never did », in another press release addressed to Pitchfork .
On Tuesday night, for the band’s first tour date in Dublin, singer Feist, who was a guest, had a sign put up claiming that all proceeds from the sale of merchandise from the evening were going to Women’s Aid Dublin, a charity who fight against domestic violence. The “We” tour must pass through France in a few days, in Lille, Paris, Bordeaux and Nantes.