Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler has been accused of alleged sexual misconduct by four people and has denied all the allegations.
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Butler was allegedly involved in interactions with four people who were between the ages of 18 and 23 between 2015 and 2020, according to a recent investigative report. The individuals, who asked to use pseudonyms to share their stories, accused Butler of “inappropriate” actions.
In response to the allegations of sexual misconduct, Butler said he was “very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behavior” but that the aforementioned relations “were all consensual.” Butler’s wife and Arcade Fire bandmate Régine Chassagne also shared a statement. “I know he has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent and I am certain he never did.” (Read the full statements from Butler and Chassagne below.)
The report included one interaction between Butler and a person who called themselves “Lily” with the pronoun they/them. They alleged that Butler touched them non-consensually while in a car, and gave them a kiss that “I did not ask for” following their meeting after a Montreal show in 2015. The individual further alleged that Butler came to their apartment two days later and immediately “pinned me up against the wall and was aggressively grabbing my body and sticking his tongue down my throat” which they say was “so not OK in the context” and called the interaction “manipulation.” In response to Lily’s allegation, Butler said, “When [Lily] opened the door we started kissing immediately. I don’t remember who initiated it but it was definitely mutual.”
Another woman, who used the pseudonym ‘Stella” alleged that Butler began “repeatedly sending her explicit texts without her consent or reciprocation,” after the two began interacting on Instagram when she was 18. In July 2020, Stella made a public allegation against Butler on Instagram, calling the singer a “sexual predator,” with “Lily” and another woman also commenting on their encounters with Butler.
Responding to Stella’s allegation, Butler said: “Later, we met up for a drink and she got quite drunk and was asking me forcefully if there was somewhere we could sleep together. I didn’t feel right about it and put her in a cab and made sure she made it home safe.”
Additionally, two other women, using the pseudonyms “Fiona” and “Sara” said that they began interacting on FaceTime, messaging with Butler in 2018 and 2017, respectively, when Sarah was 23 and Fiona was 20. Both say Butler asked them to send him explicit videos. In one correspondence with Fiona, Butler reportedly wrote: “Just promise me it’s private and you won’t tell people I messaged you or screen grab it or anything.”
“He used me, basically, as his personal therapist, and easy way to get sex over the phone,” said Sarah in the report. “The FaceTimes would be strictly—he gets off, hangs up. I felt sick every day after I did it.”
Butler said that he and Sarah did begin “sexting and talking a lot” but after he started to feel “uncomfortable” with their interaction, he told security to “make sure she didn’t get too close.” In response, Sarah said that she never had interaction with Butler’s security.
Fiona added that after her sexual encounter with Butler in 2017, she felt “incredibly low” and attempted suicide. “The toll of having to keep everything secret,” she said, “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 responded, “Almost a year later she reached out to me again and said she missed me and wanted to sext again, which we did.” He added, “[Fiona] messaged me after saying that the experience of hooking up with me had been difficult on her mentally, which was really surprising and very sad to me.”
Fiona denied reaching out to the singer again and said that her depression and suicide attempt were “absolutely related to [Butler].”
In a full statement, Butler said:
I love Régine with all of my heart. We have been together for twenty years, she is my partner in music and in life, my soulmate and I am lucky and grateful to have her by my side. But at times, it has been difficult to balance being the father, husband, and bandmate that I want to be. Today I want to clear the air about my life, poor judgment, and mistakes I have made.
I have had consensual relationships outside of my marriage. There is no easy way to say this, and the hardest thing I have ever done is having to share this with my son. The majority of these relationships were short-lived, and my wife is aware – our marriage has, in the past, been more unconventional than some. I have connected with people in person, at shows, and through social media, and I have shared messages of which I am not proud. Most importantly, every single one of these interactions has been mutual and always between consenting adults. It is deeply revisionist, and frankly just wrong, for anyone to suggest otherwise.
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.
While these relationships were all consensual, I am very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behaviour. Life is filled with tremendous pain and error, and I never want to be part of causing someone else’s pain.
“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 behavior, but I do want to give some context and share what was happening in my life around this time. I no longer recognized myself or the person I had become. Régine waited patiently watching me suffer and tried to help me as best as she could. I know it must have been so hard for her to watch the person she loved so lost.
I have been working hard on myself – not out of fear or shame, but because I am a human being who wants to improve despite my flaws and damage. I’ve spent the last few years since Covid hit trying to save that part of my soul. I have put significant time and energy into therapy and healing, including attending AA. I am more aware now of how my public persona can distort relationships even if a situation feels friendly and positive to me. I am very grateful to Régine, my family, my dear friends, and my therapist, who have helped me back from the abyss that I felt certain at times would consume me. The bond I share with my bandmates and the incredibly deep connection I’ve made with an audience through sharing music has literally saved my life.
As I look to the future, I am continuing to learn from my mistakes and working hard to become a better person, someone my son can be proud of. I say to you all my friends, family, to anyone I have hurt and to the people who love my music and are shocked and disappointed by this report: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the pain I caused – I’m sorry I wasn’t more aware and tuned in to the effect I have on people – I fucked up, and while not an excuse, I will continue to look forward and heal what can be healed, and learn from past experiences. I can do better and I will do better.
Chassagne also shared another statement on the allegations against her husband:
Win 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. And for all of the love in our lives, I have also watched him suffer through immense pain. I have stood by him because I know he is a good man who cares about this world, our band, his fans, friends, and our family. I’ve known Win since before we were “famous,” when we were just ordinary college students. 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.
Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns