Music

Following Allegations Of Sexual Assault, Backlash Mounts Against PWR BTTM

by and

Today, responding to allegations of predatory behavior, sexual assault, and anti-Semitism, PWR BTTM’s Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins issued a shared statement on Facebook, calling the accusations “shocking” and “very serious.” On Wednesday night, a member of a private Facebook group claimed to have witnessed Hopkins engaging in “inappropriate sexual contact” and “unwanted advances.” The accuser included screenshots of conversations with others discussing the allegations (which you can see here, on Vulture), and went on to accuse Hopkins of anti-Semitism, sharing a previously leaked 2011 photo of Hopkins posing with a swastika drawn in the sand on the beach. Hopkins had previously apologized for the photo in December, saying on Twitter that “it was me as a stupid kid and not who I am today,” and asking anyone offended to contact them to discuss it further.

The band, whom the Voice profiled in our May 10–May 16 print issue, calls the accusations “shocking to us and we take them very seriously.” To address the claims, they have set up an email account at pwrbttm.ask@gmail.com, which will be monitored by a professional mediator. (Hopkins, they noted, will not have access to that email account.) The band’s full statement is below.

UPDATE 1 – 5/12/17 11:15 AM: In the wake of the allegations against Hopkins, PWR BTTM collaborator Cameron West released a statement on Facebook announcing the end of his tenure with the group. New York band T-Rextasy, who were scheduled to open for PWR BTTM on tour this summer, canceled all appearances with the band.

Finally, PWR BTTM have canceled a record release party scheduled for tonight at Rough Trade in Brooklyn.

UPDATE 2 – 5/12/17 4:30 PM: The backlash from the accusations of sexual assault levied against PWR BTTM’s Ben Hopkins continues to mount. In addition to the previously reported fallout:

– In an interview on Jezebel, one of the alleged victims described being sexually assaulted by Hopkins after a PWR BTTM show last year. The unnamed victim also claims she spoke to Liv Bruce about the incident last year, casting their initial statement into doubt: “The statement that they made, I know for a fact, is an actual lie because I know they did know. The statement they made is 100 percent false.”

– Bassist and touring member Nicholas Cummins has left the group.

– In addition to T-Rextasy, several other prospective opening acts have dropped out of PWR BTTM’s upcoming tour, including iji, Tancred, and Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. Via Facebook, Ogbonnaya released a statement encouraging fans to email her with thoughts and concerns regarding the scandal.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 1.50.21 PM
– PWR BTTM have been dropped from Bled Fest lineup. Nate Dorough of Fusion Shows spoke on behalf of Bled Fest releasing a statement on Facebook.“We do not have any tolerance for this kind of activity, and it’s important that we act in favor of any victims, whether we know them directly or not.”

– PWR BTTM have also been dropped from the Hopscotch Music Festival lineup.

– Polyvinyl, PWR BTTM’s label, is offering refunds for preorders of PWR BTTM’s new album, which was supposed to be released today. You can email mailorder@polyvinylrecords.com to receive a refund.

– Salty Artist Management announced that it will no longer represent PWR BTTM, tweeting:

UPDATE 3 – 5/13/17 3:30 PM: PWR BTTM have been dropped by Polyvinyl, their record label.

We’ve reached out to the band’s camp for additional comment, and will update this story as it develops.