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Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon, Red House Painters Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Accusations of unwanted touching and non-consensual intercourse follow an earlier report last summer

Mark Kozelek

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Mark Kozelek, the singer-songwriter behind Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters, has been accused of sexual misconduct by seven more women, Pitchfork reports. The accusations follow an earlier Pitchfork report from last summer that detailed Kozelek exposing himself without permission and pressuring women into sex.

The original report from August 2020 detailed accusations from two women, Sarah Catherine Golden and “Andrea” (who requested a pseudonym), that outlined alleged nonconsensual behavior from Kozelek. Golden, a mental health specialist based in Los Angeles and a Sun Kil Moon fan, described meeting Kozelek on a flight from Madrid to Portugal during which he offered to put her on the guestlist for his show in Porto. After attending the show, Golden was invited by Kozelek to his hotel, where she said she assumed she’d be drinking in a group setting with him and his bandmates.

Instead, she claims, Kozelek brought her back to his hotel room alone, where she says he tried to persuade her to have sex with him. She says she convinced him to call a cab for her, but that afterward he began masturbating in front of her and attempting to take off her clothes. After fleeing into the cab, she says she considered calling the police, “But I didn’t know how to do that. I don’t speak Portuguese,” she said. She texted two friends that night about the incident, both of whom confirmed it to Pitchfork. Golden also claims that she believes the Sun Kil Moon song “Soap for Joyful Hands,” released in 2018, is based on Kozelek’s encounter with Golden.

Meanwhile, the accuser known as Andrea alleged Kozelek exposed himself to her in a hotel room in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2014, when she was 19 and he was 47. He also allegedly initiated sex that she wrote “really wasn’t consensual” in a series of Facebook messages to a friend the next day; the missives were shown to Pitchfork. The two carried on a long-distance relationship for several months afterward; Andrea described some encounters that were consensual and others where “the lines [were] really blurred,” including multiple instances of public sex that she felt pressured into.

“I feel like our sexual relationship, every encounter was him trying to find another thing he could do, and not in a way where he asks for consent or permission,” she said.

The incidents alleged in the new article range from the early Nineties, during Kozelek’s days with Red House Painters, to more recent accusations from the height of Sun Kil Moon’s popularity in the 2010s. Many of the women who spoke to Pitchfork were fans of Kozelek who interacted with him during his shows and were later invited to his hotel rooms.

In a statement to Pitchfork through his attorney, Kozelek said: “Apparently an effort is being made by those with an agenda to renew and recirculate the same kinds of false allegations and innuendo that were the subject of my prior statement in August 2020. I continue to categorically deny that I engaged in the inappropriate incidents falsely depicted in the media. I intend to vigorously defend myself against these untruthful allegations and to pursue and protect my rights in the event that false and defamatory statements are disseminated or published.” (A representative for Kozelek did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.)

According to “Ella,” one of the accusers (many of whom used pseudonyms), Kozelek invited her to dinner after meeting at a show in Massachusetts. He then invited her to his hotel room on the basis of wanting to discuss her career as an artist, with multiple assurances that the invite was nonsexual. She then alleges that, once they were in his hotel room, he began undressing and went into the shower.

“He came out in a towel and he asked me if I would have sex with him,” Ella says. “And he made it sound theoretical, but it wasn’t.”

She then claimed Kozelek pleaded for her to stay the night, and they later had sex, which Ella categorizes as rape. At the time, Ella was a 20-year-old college student while Kozelek was 50. Ella’s boyfriend at the time confirmed to Pitchfork that she told him she had had non-consensual intercourse with Kozelek.

Another accuser, Laura, recalls Kozelek asking her to have a drink after she sang with him onstage at a Sun Kil Moon show in 2017. At the time, she was 37 and he was 50. Rather than go to the local pub she suggested, she says Kozelek preferred they meet at his hotel, where she assumed they’d be socializing with his bandmates at the lobby bar. Instead, she alleges, Kozelek brought her to his hotel room, where he undressed and made sexual advances on her, which she refused.

“But why? Is it because I’m old? Am I not attractive to you? You have to tell me why you won’t fuck me. You’ve seen my movies,” she quotes him as allegedly saying. She says she eventually allowed him to spoon her during the night. The next day, she drove to her sister’s house and told her what happened, her sister confirmed to Pitchfork.

In 2014, an accuser named Anjuli recalls Kozelek walking her back to her apartment after a show and asking to use her bathroom. When he emerged, she says his pants were down to his ankles, and he began grabbing her, attempting to place his hands on her body. When she told him she was calling a cab, she says he asked if he could masturbate in front of her. When the cab eventually arrived, she describes having to “basically push him out the door.”

“I have a visceral reaction if I hear him,” she says. “I had to get rid of everything — I had his book of lyrics and all of his CDs and posters. And I just threw it all away.”

An accuser named Rasa claims that Kozelek invited her to his hotel room after a show and nonconsensually masturbated in front of her in 2017 when she was 24 and he was 50. The next day, she says Kozelek invited her to travel to the next show with him and his band, which she agreed to; the following night, she alleges, they had a consensual sexual encounter and said “I love you” to each other before Kozelek departed.

A few months later, in February 2018, Rasa wrote to Kozelek: “Masturbating next to someone who didn’t consent is not right even if that person is in bed with you. Touching someone who says no is not OK. I believed you. I thought we were literally just going to sleep next to each other. I didn’t feel assaulted back then, because I was taken by surprise. I guess I freaked out, but the fact that I liked you made me stay. After all, I was staying with Mark Kozelek. You used your position. You used your authority to try to get something that you wanted from me.”

Kozelek responded, in a message reviewed by Pitchfork: “I don’t recall anything non-consensual…I recall things differently. A different tone than what you are describing. I recall laughter, playfulness, flirtation. If the situation was as bad as what you described, you would not have opted to make the trip to [the next stop on the European tour] with me, the next day. Five people saw you come along, and we shared dinner with others.”

Connie C., a singer and cabaret performer in San Francisco, had asked Red House Painters to open for her in the early Nineties and had briefly dated Kozelek in the summer of 1992; the two remained friendly, and Connie C. became engaged to another man. The following April, while on a radio publicity tour in Europe, Kozelek invited Connie C. to sing with him during several stops. When she arrived in London, she learned that she would be sharing a room with Kozelek, and she says he became angry when she refused to share a bed with him. As the tour continued, the same situation kept happening, and Connie C. describes hearing Kozelek masturbating in his bed while she attempted to sleep in a separate cot each night.

“I could hear it every night. I’d have to put the pillow over my head,” she says. “He did it several times: He did it in Paris; he did it in Hamburg. The more this happened, the grosser I felt. And I wanted to go home, but I didn’t have enough money to get home.”

Kozelek eventually told her he’d continue the radio performances without her accompaniment. “As it became apparent that I wasn’t going to sleep in the same bed with him, then those opportunities began to dwindle,” she says. “He assured me I would get my own room, and that he respected that I was getting married. In the back of my head, I was thinking, this is a bad idea. But it’s hard when somebody says, ‘I’m going to take you to Europe for free, and I’m going to introduce you to all these people and help you out.’”

After returning to the U.S., Connie C. confronted Kozelek about his behavior, and he responded by offering to refer her to a therapist. She confided in a friend about Kozelek’s behavior at the time. “I remember her just being really miserable, and feeling really broken in a way that I had never seen her before,” the friend says.

Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald had been platonic friends with Kozelek for over a decade when they met up in Melbourne in 2008 while he was on tour. At one point during the day, Lewis-Fitzgerald says Kozelek asked her if she had ever been attracted to or romantically interested in him, and she told him that she hadn’t. Later in the day, she says he asked if he could masturbate in front of her. A month later, Lewis-Fitzgerald shared the story with a friend, who confirmed it to Pitchfork.

An accuser named Claire met Kozelek in 2014, while she was attending the Newport Folk Festival in a professional capacity with access to the backstage area. They made plans to hang out at a nearby hotel later, and she agreed to meet him at the pool, hoping the public area would dissuade any sexual advances. She says he then asked her to join him as he dropped something off at his hotel room, allegedly telling her, “I’m too old to try to fuck you.” She says Kozelek then took a bath with the door open and emerged in only his underwear, repeatedly touching her and asking to “fool around.” When she refused his advances, she says she remembers her asking, “Have you been raped? Is that why you’re like this?” She left his room and called her then-boyfriend, telling him about the incident; he later confirmed this to Pitchfork.

In spring 2019, a 25-year-old Sun Kil Moon fan, who remained anonymous for the article, reached out to Kozelek via email to thank him for his music. The two began an email and text exchange, and in October 2019 agreed to meet up in San Francisco for lunch. The woman’s boyfriend was uneasy about the planned meetup and made a post to Reddit’s Am I the Asshole forum, where users seek advice on whether they’re behaving inappropriately in a situation. Although he did not name Kozelek — describing him only as his girlfriend’s “favorite musician” — he received a private message from someone who correctly guessed that it was Kozelek. The sender turned out to be Ella, the woman who alleges Kozelek assaulted her in Massachusetts.

“I know who it is, you don’t even have to tell me,” she wrote. “I know because I met with him two years ago and it was a huge mistake. He is a bad dude. I would advise her not to get alone with him at any point.”

When the woman’s boyfriend showed her the message, she says, “I just felt this sinking pit in my stomach.” She told Kozelek that her boyfriend would be dropping her off at their lunch meeting, and Kozelek responded by saying he felt uncomfortable with the arrangement, calling the whole meeting off.

From Rolling Stone US