Arcade Fire Founder Win Butler Responds to Accusations of Alleged Sexual Misconduct
Vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Win Butler – who co-founded indie/art rock ensemble Arcade Fire in 2001 – has been accused of sexual misconduct by four women. However, Butler has denied all allegations.
As reported in-depth by Pitchfork:
Three women made allegations [in recent months] of sexual interactions with Butler that they came to feel were inappropriate given the gaps in age, power dynamics, and context in which they occurred. All three women were devoted Arcade Fire fans between the ages of 18 and 23 at the start of their interactions with Butler, which took place during overlapping periods from 2016 to 2020, when he was between 36 and 39. A fourth person, who is gender-fluid and uses they/them pronouns, claims that Butler sexually assaulted them twice in 2015, when they were 21 and he was 34.
Cumulatively, these transgressions are said to have occurred via cell phone texts and Instagram messages, as well as during various in-person encounters (including at restaurants/bars, in a car ride and at least one accuser’s apartment).
The accusations made by Butler's accusers include aggressive and unwanted physical touching, sexting without consent or reciprocation and alleged requests for increasingly explicit sexual videos, per the accounts shared with Pitchfork.
In response, Pitchfork adds, Butler’s first written statement, “acknowledged having sexual interactions with each of the four people, but maintained that they were consensual, and not initiated by him.” Shortly thereafter, Butler released another statement:
I love Régine [Chassagne, wife and bandmate] 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 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.
In addition, Chassagne issued the following statement:
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.
To date, Arcade Fire have released six studio LPs, such as 2022’s We and 2011’s Grammy-winning The Suburbs. The band has also been notably involved in activistic activities, including efforts to raise money and awareness for Haiti (Chassagne is of Haitian descent).
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, resources are available for help. Visit the RAINN website (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) or dial 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673).
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. Resource information is provided for free as well as a chat message service. To speak directly to a professional, call 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone and help is available. Every life is important.