For the second time in an eight-day span, queer punk band PWR BTTM has taken to Facebook in an attempt to defend itself from some disturbing charges.
The lead singer of PWR BTTM, Ben Hopkins, has been accused by a woman of sexually assaulting her while she was sleeping and refusing to wear a condom. But in a Facebook post released on Thursday, Hopkins said they were emotionally overwhelmed and devastated, and they said “I understood our [sexual] interactions to be fully consensual.”
Although the accusations were made earlier this month, Hopkins said they hadn’t responded before Thursday because they were trying to determine who made the claims. Now that Hopkins said they have figured out who the anonymous person is, they wanted to give their side of the story.
We met the night before a show in March of 2016 and spent most of the following day together. After the show, she invited me back to her house and we eventually engaged in sex. Based on the nature of our communications and our interactions with one another, I understood our interactions to be fully consensual. We stayed in touch over the course of several weeks by exchanging texts and pictures. Later, she asked if she could stay with me at my home, where we had sex several more times over the course of those days. Again, I understood these interactions to be fully consensual, especially since our ongoing communications continued to be mutual, positive and reciprocal in nature. We did not see each other much after that but when we did it was entirely pleasant and we continued to exchange texts, including as recently as March of this year. I had no indication before last week that she had any concerns about our interaction.
Hopkins also wrote they “strongly contest the account put forth in Jezebel. I am firmly committed to consent, to communication, and to mutual expression of sexual interest. The accusations in Jezebel directly conflict with my experience, as it is not my practice to engage in sexual contact without protection, without discussing the issue with my partner, or to engage in the other conduct alleged …”
In an interview with Jezebel posted on May 12, an anonymous person said Hopkins had sexually assaulted her and said, “I just felt totally powerless in the situation.” A day earlier, a Facebook poster named Kitty Cordero-Kolin said Hopkins was a “known sexual predator.”
PWR BTTM initially responded last week on Facebook, saying “the allegations come as a surprise, but we are trying to address them with openness and accountability.” The duo also set up an email account Hopkins would not have access to so “a survivor or someone working directly with a survivor can discuss the allegations being expressed on social media.” But on Thursday, the band said it had shut down the email address.
“At the time we thought it was the right thing to do,” the statement said. “We now see that we were putting the onus on others to do something that only works if it is what they want. We have concluded that there is no viable way to do what we were trying to accomplish…”
After the assault accusations became public—and combined with previous accusations of Hopkins’s anti-Semitism—the duo was dropped by its record label, Polyvinyl Records, and the band’s music was removed by streaming services.
In Thursday’s Facebook post, band member Liv Bruce said they had been contacted by the anonymous accuser in February, and though the conversation was friendly, it ended without a specific plan with how to move forward. Bruce said they didn’t share the identity of that person with Hopkins based on the wishes of the accuser.
“After our conversation, I wanted to discuss with Ben the issues she had raised but I quickly realized that doing so would inevitably reveal her identity,” Bruce wrote. “I did not know how to proceed nor did I know where to seek advice about how to move forward. After Ben ascertained the individual’s identity on Friday I decided that my withholding information was no longer protecting her privacy and I told Ben about the conversation she and I had.”
Here’s the entire Facebook post by PWR BTTM:
Statement from PWR BTTMFrom Ben:What has transpired over the past several days has been emotionally overwhelming and...Posted by PWR BTTM on Thursday, May 18, 2017