A spokeswoman for Conor Oberst denied allegations Tuesday that the Bright Eyes singer raped a 16-year-old girl a decade ago.
“The behavior attributed to him by this individual is in direct opposition to his principles,” Oberst’s publicist wrote to Absolute Punk. “Conor is consulting with a libel attorney regarding this matter.”
The allegations stem from a series of anonymous comments left nearly three weeks ago on an xoJane essay about a woman abused by her musician boyfriend.
“No one believed me because I had been his biggest fan for several years at that point, his pictures covered my locker, etc. … I want to out him so bad,” the user wrote, before naming Oberst, now 33, in a follow-up comment, identifying him as her former English teacher’s brother. (A 2004 Omaha World Herald story posted on Oberst’s record label’s website identifies one of his brothers as a North Carolina teacher.)
I became a huge fan of Conor’s music and for my 16th birthday, Bright Eyes was playing a local show and my old english teacher (Conor’s brother) arranged for me to go and meet Conor after the show as a birthday present of sorts. Conor definitely took advantage of my teenage crush on him. At first, I was flattered when he was playing with my hair and had his hand on my leg. It was like my dream come true at that point. But then he clearly wanted to go further and I made it very clear and told him I was a virgin and wasn’t prepared to change that right then but he didn’t stop.
The comments on xoJane have since been deleted, but were reposted and reblogged into the thousands on Tumblr, prompting the commenter to create her own Tumblr account (also since deleted) explaining why she decided to come forward — and calling the admission a “stupid mistake.”
“I wish I could say I was really brave and I was speaking out for the benefit of other victims of rape who may feel discounted in their experiences and alone,” she wrote. “But I am not that brave. I am speaking now because everyone else is speaking for me and a lot of it isn’t accurate.”
The full response from Oberst’s publicist:
Usually we wouldn’t feel the urge to comment on spurious blog chatter but the recent allegations made about Conor Oberst by an anonymous commenter on the xoJane website are flagrant enough to demand our response. This individual’s accusations are absolutely, unequivocally false. Unfortunately, the internet allows for groundless statements like this to travel the world before the truth has any time to surface. This is a particularly serious and sickening allegation and there is no truth to it. Conor has nothing but abhorrence for the perpetrators of such crimes of sexual violence. The behavior attributed to him by this individual is in direct opposition to his principles. Conor is consulting with a libel attorney regarding this matter.
The full (deleted) post from a Tumblr user claiming to be the xoJane commenter:
Look, I didn’t intend for any of this to happen. I was a somewhat regular commenter on xojane and felt safe there. Call it dumb, naive, etc but when I hit that post button, I did not think my comment would be anything more than an exchange with one or two other commenters sharing their stories. Was I stupid to think that making an accusation about Conor like this was just going to remain some blip in the comment section of a feminist website? Obviously. But I didn’t realize that Conor was still that popular, to be honest. I guess I felt too safe in that community. I had no intention for this to be all over the place, I really did not.
I am not looking for my 15 minutes of fame or to sue or to let anyone else make money off of this situation (though some are already trying), I am not looking for anything. All I was looking for when I made the comment with my story was support from the ladies on that forum that I felt safe opening up to. But now this has been spread all over everywhere and I feel like I need to speak up for the facts, for my character and for my intent (or lack there of).
I wish I could say I was really brave and I was speaking out for the benefit of other victims of rape who may feel discounted in their experiences and alone. But I am not that brave. I am speaking now because everyone else is speaking for me and a lot of it isn’t accurate. But now that it’s out there, if anyone can relate to it and not feel so alone or needs any support, I’m here for that.
I do not expect anyone to coddle me or hate him or to believe me. That’s your choice and has no bearing on my life, but I do expect people to treat me with dignity and respect-this was and is very painful for me. It’s really hard to have my experience smeared everywhere and picked apart, over analyzed, people criticizing me who know nothing of it, etc. But I made the stupid mistake that opened these flood gates so, I will deal with it. But please just try to be respectful-that shouldn’t be so hard. Please refrain from telling me what I could’ve/would’ve/should’ve done. That is highly offensive to any victim of anything and not your place. Please respect my privacy for the safety of my family.
Correction: Conor Oberst’s spokeswoman issued Tuesday’s statement denying the allegations. An earlier version of this post said a spokesman issued the statement.