Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler has been accused of sexual misconduct by four people, according to a detailed report in Pitchfork. Three women allege that the encounters were “inappropriate given the gaps in age, power dynamics, and context in which they occurred,” while a fourth person, who is gender-fluid, alleges that Butler sexually assaulted them twice in 2015.
Butler — who formed the band in 2001 with Regine Chassagne, now his wife — has admitted to the encounters but disputes the accounts, saying through a spokesperson that they were consensual. Statements from Butler and Chassagne appear below; contacted by Variety on Saturday, a rep for the band said there was no further comment.
The three women, all of whom were ardent Arcade Fire fans, say that they “came to feel [their sexual interactions with Butler] were inappropriate given the gaps in age, power dynamics, and context in which they occurred.” They say the interactions began when they were between the ages of 18 and 23, and took place during overlapping periods from 2016 to 2020, when he was between 36 and 39.
The fourth person alleges that Butler sexually assaulted them twice in 2015, when they were 21 and he was 34: Once while they were riding together in a car, and again after he allegedly showed up at their apartment despite text messages asking him not to do so. Pitchfork says it has viewed screenshots of text and Instagram messages between them and Butler, and interviewed friends and family members who said they recalled being told about the alleged incidents. The four people all use pseudonyms in the account.
Butler, who responded through crisis public-relations rep Risa Heller, acknowledged having sexual interactions with each of the four people, but maintained that they were consensual, and not initiated by him. Through Heller, Butler even offered to put Pitchfork in contact with different women who had consensual sexual experiences with him in the past. Detailed accounts of the interactions and Butler’s full statement can be found on Pitchfork.
His statement reads in part: “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 favors. That simply, and unequivocally, never happened. While these relationships were all consensual, I am very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behavior. 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 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.”
The rep also provided a written statement from Chassagne in support of Butler’s perspective, which reads in full:
“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.”