PWR BTTM, widely known among the queer rock scene, consists of nonbinary artists Liv Bruce (who uses she/her pronouns) and Ben Hopkins (who uses they/them pronouns). The duo formed their group in 2013, and their album Pageant was released on May 12. One day before, allegations of sexual assault arose against Hopkins. In a closed DIY Chicago Facebook group, Kitty Cordero-Kolin called out Hopkins for both sexual assault and antisemitism.
The band had addressed Hopkins’ antisemitic action and apologized before, but never mentioned any allegation of sexual assault. On May 11, they responded to the above circulating on Facebook on their Twitter:
— PWR BTTM (@PWRBTTMBAND) May 11, 2017
In the tweet, the band claimed such allegations were new to them, and stated that they were setting up an email account that would be managed by a third party mediator, so victims could come forward.
However, on May 12, Jezebel published an article containing an interview with an anonymous victim of Hopkins’ assault. The woman (Jezebel used the pseudonym Jen) stated that a year ago, after one of PWR BTTM’s shows, Hopkins had had unprotected sex with her against her consent, while she was intoxicated. Afterwards they continued to send her nude photos. A month later, they assaulted her again. Although she attempted to convince herself what had happened to her was okay, after hearing similar stories about Hopkins and being encouraged by her friends, she recognized her experience for what it was. Hopkins’ fellow band member, Liz Bruce, heard stories about Jen’s experience and reached out for her. Jen told Bruce her entire story, to which Bruce told Jen to contact Ben and explain her feelings. Bruce continued to remain in the band. Jen’s story stands in direct contradiction to PWR BTTM’s tweet on Friday. If she is true to her word, then Bruce did in fact know about allegations of sexual assault prior to Thursday the 11th.
According to touring member Cameron West, these accusations were “these accusations were in fact levied via e-mail months ago, but were left unshared with other members of the band, including myself.” West than quit the group.
Several shows have been cancelled, including the NYC release show and the Hopscotch festival. Various bands have dropped out of the PWR BTTM tour: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, T-Rextasy, iji, and Tancred. Salty Artist Management tweeted that they will no longer be working with PWR BTTM. The group’s label Polyvinyl dropped the group today, on May 13.