In under 48 hours, Hedley went from being one of the most successful and bankable acts in the country to being banned from radio stations over allegations of sexual misconduct.
But the main person behind the #outHedley2k18 hashtag that brought these stories into the mainstream said she had no idea how quickly things would change once she started tweeting about the band on Tuesday.
"I was hoping it would gain traction but I wasn't expecting it to reach the level that it did," she the 21-year-old student who shared the stories through her Twitter account @_cndnpsycho. She asked not to be identified other than by her initial, T, for fear of retaliation.
The allegations led to the band being dropped from performing at the Juno Awards next month, the end of a promotional deal with Air Miles, and charitable organizations that had previously worked with Hedley distancing themselves from the quartet. On Thursday, Corus Radio said it suspended airplay of all Hedley music on 30 stations across Canada.
Hedley released a statement calling the allegations "unsubstantiated."
T said she was moved to speak up after discussing Hedley and rumours about the band's behaviour with a friend. After calling for fans on Twitter to share "creepy" stories of encounters with the band, she said she was quickly inundated with messages.
"I just decided to start posting these stories that I was receiving anonymously," she said.
Those stories included allegations of the band engaging in inappropriate and predatory behaviour with female fans, some as young as 14.
"It just kind of blew up," T said. "I think I received about 50 messages from people all over Canada with some pretty horrifying stories about the band."
T said she was a longtime fan of the band, and knowing how young and vulnerable much of the fanbase is, she felt an obligation to provide a platform for anyone who wanted to come forward.
"Even if it doesn't reach a courtroom, I think it's important they're held accountable and the public knows that these are the kind of people they are."
BuzzFeed Canada has reached out to Hedley and the band's record label for comment, but neither has responded to questions.
Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B
Contact Ishmael N. Daro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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