Win Butler, the frontman for Grammy-winning Canadian rock band Arcade Fire, has been accused of sexual misconduct by four people.
Three of the accusers are women who say they were “devoted” fans of the band, and claim that the misconduct occurred between 2016 and 2020 when they were between the ages of 18 and 23 and Butler was between 36 and 39. A fourth accuser, who identifies as gender-fluid, alleges that Butler sexually assaulted them twice in 2015, when they were 21 and he was 34, according to a report in Pitchfork.
Butler has been married to fellow Arcade Fire member Regine Chassagne since 2003.
Butler denied the sexual misconduct allegations, saying that he had had “consensual relationships outside of my marriage,” according to statements he provided to Pitchfork.
The accusers, who were identified by pseudonyms in the article, said that Butler initially contacted them through social media before meeting them in person, and later made demands for nude photos and sex. One of the women told Pitchfork that “Butler sent her photos of his genitals against her wishes.”
Another woman described that after first connecting with Butler on Instagram after an Arcade Fire concert in Montreal, the two engaged in “sexts and video calls” before having sex. However, following a sexual encounter in her Vancouver bedroom before a concert in October 2017, this person told Pitchfork that she attempted suicide. “I felt incredibly low,” she said. “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.”
Butler acknowledged that he was aware of her suicide attempt but said she told him “it was unrelated to me, she was suffering from mental illness,” according to the report. “It was absolutely related to him,” she responded.
The gender-fluid individual, a 21-year-old art student at the time, said that they met Butler in January 2015 when the band was playing in Montreal. The two exchanged contact information and met in February, where they allege Butler touched them inappropriately without their consent. Two days later he showed up at their apartment, where “he pinned me up against the wall and was aggressively grabbing my body and sticking his tongue down my throat,” they said. “It was an attempt to be sexy, and it was so not OK in the context.”
In his statement, Butler called his marriage at times “unconventional,” and said that the relationships with the four accusers were “short-lived,” adding that “every single one of these interactions has been mutual and always between consenting adults.”
“I have never touched a woman against her will, and any implication that I have is simply false. I vehemently deny any suggestion that I forced myself on a woman or demanded sexual favours. That simply, and unequivocally, never happened,” he said.
Butler sent a second statement to Pitchfork in which he acknowledged dealing with depression and drinking.
“I have long struggled with mental health issues and the ghosts of childhood abuse. In my 30s, I started drinking as I dealt with the heaviest depression of my life after our family experienced a miscarriage. None of this is intended to excuse my behaviour, but I do want to give some context and share what was happening in my life around this time.”
Chassagne, for her part, is standing by her husband.
Butler, she said in a statement to Pitchfork, is “my soulmate, my songwriting partner, my husband, the father of my beautiful boy. He has been my partner in life and in music for 20 years.” She went on to say that “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. He has lost his way and he has found his way back. I love him and love the life we have created together.”
Laura Eldeiry, Butler’s publicist, declined to comment beyond the statements Butler and Chassagne gave to Pitchfork.
Arcade Fire, now a five-piece band fronted by the husband-and-wife duo, earned early acclaim for its earnest and anthemic rock. After vaulting from the bustling Montreal indie scene in the mid-2000s, the band became critical favourites and one of the biggest rock acts of the last two decades. They won the Grammy for album of the year in 2011 for their third album, “The Suburbs,” and headlined the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in 2014. The group returned to Coachella this year with a surprise early-day set promoting its latest album, “We.”
As of Saturday, the band is still scheduled to begin a European arena tour on Tuesday, with two nights at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California, in November.
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