Entertainment & Arts

Investigation finds 'no corroboration' of sexual assault on The Killers tour

The Killers Image copyright Getty Images

The Killers say they have found no evidence to support "heartbreaking" allegations of sexual assault by members of their road crew in 2009.

The band's legal team set up an investigation last week, following an account by their former sound engineer.

She alleged hearing crew members boast of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in a dressing room in Milwaukee.

After speaking to her, as well as venue staff and the alleged victim, they found "no corroboration" of the claims.

However, the band requested that anyone with further information about the allegations should contact them; and said they would establish a new system for reporting assault or bullying on future tours.

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The claims emerged last week, in a blog posted by Chez Cherrie, who worked with The Killers briefly in 2009.

She wrote that, during a show at the the Rave/Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, the front of house engineer told the crew that there was "a girl set up in Dressing Room A," and crew members could put their name on a list to be called "when it's [their] turn."

Cherrie said that later, on the bus, members of the crew would "swap stories" about their time with the woman. "They talked about her intoxication level, yet had no qualms that she was obviously blacked out, or close to it," she added.

As they were departing, she claimed a security guard ran towards the bus and said: "That girl in Dressing Room A is passed out and naked. Is anyone going to take care of her?" She alleged that the men on the bus laughed and declined, before leaving the venue.

Cherrie did not name the band in the article, which was first published in 2018, but identified them as The Killers while re-posting the article on Twitter last week.

None of the band members were implicated in the alleged assault.

In a separate allegation, however, Cherrie claimed the band "would bring drunken groupies to our bus" and that the crew were given bonuses if they took women backstage who were willing to perform oral sex or shower naked for un-named band-members.

In response, the band told the BBC they were "shocked and astonished" by the allegations.

Although the incident had not been reported to the police, they asked their legal firm, Reynolds & Associates, to investigate the allegations.

'Problematic workmate'

In a lengthy statement shared with the BBC on Monday, the legal team summarised their findings, concluding that the "accusations of sexual misconduct and a sexual assault backstage... were discovered to be entirely unfounded".

They confirmed that Chez Cherrie had worked on the tour for three weeks in April 2009, and "received much of the information she shared from a second or third hand source".

"She confirmed that she did not witness the alleged events herself," the statement continued.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption One of the biggest bands in rock music, The Killers have headlined Glastonbury twice

It was established that a front of house engineer was identified by several crew members as "a problematic workmate" whose "sexist remarks and rude comments" towards Cherrie, as well as his treatment of others on the tour, "was frequently deemed unfair by those who witnessed it".

This employee, who no longer works for the band, was thought to be the person who made the radio transmissions about a "line up" in "Dressing Room A", according to several crew members.

However, they characterised the comments as an "attempt at a joke or a 'hazing'," while others recalled that "vulgar language" and "crass jokes" were sometimes overheard on the tour.

Regarding the alleged assault, staff at the venue noted "that dressing rooms are not, and have never been, labelled alphabetically, and at that time the dressing rooms were interconnected and without doors".

The catering team also asserted that "at no point did they see or hear of a drunk or naked woman in any dressing room" and that such an incident would have been raised with the security team.

'Great regret'

The legal team also said they were able to trace "via touring records" the alleged victim of the incident, who had been given "aftershow" passes by the front of house engineer, and interviewed her as part of their investigation.

"The guest in question confirmed that she and her friend were backstage after the show, did not witness any 'train' or 'line-up,' nor were they left behind in the dressing rooms at the venue," the statement said.

"She stated that she and the same friend attended 2009 Lollapalooza festival later that year on the band's production guest list."

The investigation also stated that "it was not verified but assessed as feasible" that Cherrie was party to discussions about receiving bonuses for supplying women, but that such conversations did not come from "any of the musicians" or tour management.

It suggested that comments of this nature were an in-joke, based upon "urban legends" about touring life; and found no evidence of a band member ever spending time on the crew bus.

While the allegations could not be corroborated, the band expressed "great regret" that Cherrie "felt she had nowhere to turn with her concerns at the time".

"The band believe there should always be an easy way to report a situation that is concerning to anyone on the road with them, no matter their status or how briefly they are joining for," their lawyers said.

"They expressed regret that the temporary crew member was made to feel unsafe and bullied during her brief time with the band and understand that it is not always feasible for touring crew to raise concerns with their immediate superiors."

To that end, the band said they would make available an "off-site independent HR contact" for all staff on future tours, with whom they could raise any concerns anonymously.

The statement ended: "The Killers would like to take this opportunity to assure their fans - and the families of their current crew - that their tours are a safe, familial and professional working environment."

In response, Cherrie said she was grateful that the band had "taken my experience seriously" and that she was "beyond relieved" they had been able to find the alleged victim, who "is reportedly fine".

However, she told the BBC she had "conflicting feelings" about some of the investigation's other findings, including "generalised statements" that she "didn't agree with".

The sound engineer added that the vulgarity and lewd humour she witnessed on tour reflected "a larger issue in this industry - that 'hazing' towards the only women on the technical crew was normal, expected, accepted and not questioned by anyone, including myself.

"I hope that this moment is a learning experience for the entire industry and that we are able to come together in comprehensive manner to have these discussions that are so long overdue."

Welcoming The Killers' own initiatives, she added: "I hope that we are able to work together to develop a framework of reporting mistreatment and harassment that protects workers and fans and demands accountability of the people in power."

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