In the early afternoon of Saturday, Sep. 22, Panic! At The Disco announced that their touring guitarist and backing vocalist Kenneth Harris was kicked from the band following a slew of sexual misconduct allegations. The official statement read as follows: “Touring musician Kenny Harris will no longer be performing with us because of a personal matter”. The allegations emerged earlier this week, starting with a Twitter thread by the user @donasnooze.
i really do love panic! at the disco but uhhh.. kenneth harris needs to be called out, so here's a thread about my experience with him
— ash slinging slasher (@donasnooze) September 20, 2018
The thread went viral within the community, with many girls adding to the thread or direct messaging Ashley to tell their own stories. Girls as young as 13/14 reported sending photos to him and receiving heart eyes, requests for more photos, or slightly too complimentary remarks. One user, whose name was blurred out said the following: “she [her sister] sent this provocative picture to her friend Kenzi but accidentally sent it to Kenny. He snapped back around 4 hours later saying it was a hot picture and he wanted more because he was bored……He kept sending back topless pics and very provocative pictures…He wanted nudes with her face in.” Their sister had just turned 16 at the time. Ashley herself reported that Harris would often ask her for nudes despite her being 16 and repeatedly refusing to send him anything.
Harris began touring with Panic in 2013 after the departure of former member Spencer Smith. Up until yesterday, he remained as a touring member. Unfortunately, Harris’ misconduct is not new to the world of music. Earlier this year, lead singer Jacob Hoggard of the Canadian band Hedley was charged and arrested for two counts of sexual assault, one with a minor. Brockhampton’s former member Ameer Vann was kicked out in May following sexual assault allegations as well. There’s an unfortunate, ongoing tale of men in the music industry taking advantage of females because of their influence. Many times musicians abuse the adoration of fans and the naivety of minors in order to manipulate the victims into giving them what they want. This type of disgusting behavior is one that plagues the industry and only through conversations like the one started by Ashley, can this be eradicated.
Panic should be commended for their quick action in removing Harris from the band. It is so incredibly important for bands to recognize when a member has done something wrong, and properly punish them for their actions. Turing a blind eye to predatory behavior is what’s going to maintain it for years.
Most importantly, the girls who had the courage to come forward and share their stories should be praised. Speaking out is the hardest thing one can do, especially when it’s against someone with fame, influence and an audience. Despite all of the proof, there are still people on that Twitter thread that are trying to debunk everyone’s stories and blame the victims. It shows how much someone can manipulate the influence they have, but coming together and sharing these stories can take down that influence and power faster than anyone can imagine. It’s best to leave with a tweet from Ashley regarding the aftermath of her thread: “I’d just like to say, it was an absolute honor to use my account as a platform for people to come forward with their stories. I’m so glad I could finally give the victims a voice. so proud of every single one of you. goodnight.”
Featured Image credit to Vern Herster.