On Thursday, the queer punk band PWR BTTM broke its silence regarding the sexual assault accusations that caused the band’s celebrated reputation and professional relationships to rapidly implode last week, with band member Ben Hopkins stating that the “past several days has been emotionally overwhelming and difficult to comprehend.”
The scandal began with a May 10 Facebook post that accused Hopkins of a history of sexual assault and predatory advances, and quickly escalated when a woman identified only by the pseudonym “Jen” told Jezebel that she had been assaulted by Hopkins while she was intoxicated after a PWR BTTM show months ago.
In the aftermath of the Jezebel story — as PWR BTTM’s professional ties and upcoming tour plans swiftly fell apart — the duo fell silent, declining to comment further or confirm whether the entirety of a tour to support their new record, “Pageant,” was canceled.
But in a series of three new, separate statements — one from Hopkins, one from fellow bandmate Liv Bruce and one from the band itself — PWR BTTM responded specifically to the accusations made by “Jen” in the Jezebel article.
Hopkins, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, said that they had figured out the identity of their anonymous accuser, and insisted that they had understood their interactions with her to be entirely consensual. “I had no indication before last week that she had any concerns about our interaction,” Hopkins said in the statement, noting that they had engaged in sex with the woman on multiple occasions and had maintained friendly contact as recently as March.
Hopkins added that they felt it was necessary to “honor” the anonymous woman’s perspective, even though it did not correspond to their own understanding of what transpired: “It would be antithetical to my values to attack, blame, or shame someone who is using the power of call-out culture to name their experience and hold others accountable, even when – or especially if – the individual they seek to hold accountable is me. I fully appreciate that someone’s views about the dynamics of intimate interactions can change and are not always apparent in the moment. While I am open to understanding this person’s perspective, I strongly contest the account put forth in Jezebel.”
In a separate statement, Bruce (who also uses gender-neutral pronouns) acknowledged that they had previously spoken to the anonymous woman about her concerns, but did not discuss the conversation with Hopkins until after the Jezebel story was published: “My understanding was that she did not want me to share her identity with Ben unless I had her explicit permission to do so, and I assured her that I would not do so,” Bruce said in a separate statement.
After the first allegations began to circulate widely on social media last week, the band released a statement on Twitter and Facebook noting that they had created an email account to be monitored by a professional mediator, “through which a survivor or someone working directly with a survivor can discuss the allegations being expressed on social media.” In its statement Thursday, PWR BTTM said that this had not been the right approach to resolving the issue, and noted that the email account would be closed.
“At the time we thought it was the right thing to do. We now see that we were putting the onus on others to do something that only works if it is what they want,” PWR BTTM said in its statement. “We have concluded that there is no viable way to do what we were trying to accomplish, with the result that we are going to shut that email address down (we have not and will not look at any emails that may have been sent there to date).”
As for the future of the band, PWR BTTM offered no sense of certainty. Hopkins and Bruce did not acknowledge the numerous cancellations of upcoming shows, the loss of their management company and recording label, or the removal of their music from online retailers.
Instead, the pair thanked friends, fans and family who had offered support to the band during the turbulent episode.
“Having enjoyed the enthusiastic support of so many incredible people throughout our music careers has been a blessing,” the band’s statement said. “We love playing music, we love sharing music with others and we want nothing more than to be back performing together soon.”