The Posies: Cult indie band split up amid sexual assault claims

Ken Stringfellow of the Posies
Ken Stringfellow has denied the accusations made against him

Cult indie band the Posies are splitting up after several women made allegations of sexual misconduct against frontman Ken Stringfellow.

One woman accused the musician of forcing her into sex in a men’s toilet; another said she had been in an abusive relationship with him since 2017.

A third said Stringfellow bit her, leaving marks, and that she once woke up to find him having sex with her.

He categorically denied the claims, saying, “I am not down with violence”.

“I would never want to harm anyone with whom I have a relationship – sexual or otherwise,” he said in a statement provided to the BBC. 

“Consent has been the foundation of every sexual relationship I’ve had, and violence has never been a part of any of those relationships. It simply is not who I am as a person who respects women.”

The allegations emerged in an investigative report by Seattle radio station KUOW, which was published on Monday. 

Stringfellow’s long-term bandmate Jon Auer told the station he had “left the Posies very quickly”, after hearing one woman’s account of sexual abuse.

“What she described to me was super disturbing, and it made my position immediately clear,” he said in an email.

“I confronted Ken about it on a phone call on Aug[ust] 4, 2021, and cancelled our upcoming shows, and flat-out told him that I wouldn’t be working with him anymore.”

Drummer Frankie Siragusa, who had been a member of the Posies since 2015, left the band earlier this summer, and confirmed his departure was prompted by the allegations.

The Posies formed in 1988 and their jangly, power-pop anthems found success on alternative radio and MTV in the 1990s. Songs like Golden Blunders and Dream All Day became airplay hits in the US, while Going, Going, Gone featured on the million-selling soundtrack to Winona Ryder’s Gen X comedy Reality Bites.

Stringfellow toured and recorded extensively with R.E.M. while the Posies were on hiatus in the early 2000s. The band reformed in 2005, and had recently completed a new album – their first since 2016. 

Auer said that record will now be shelved.

Biting claims

The three women who came forward with allegations against Stringfellow became acquainted this summer, KUOW said, and decided to tell their stories in the hopes “that others may recognise signs of abuse in their own relationships”.

The radio station said it interviewed 20 people and examined medical records, emails and texts to corroborate the women’s stories. 

Among them was Kristine Chambers, a musician who had been in an open relationship with Stringfellow in the 2010s.

She alleged the musician had approached her at a party in 2015 and put his hand up her dress. She told him she had recently had a medical procedure and was on doctor’s orders to refrain from sex. 

Undeterred, he pulled her into a bathroom, pushed her onto the floor, pulled down her underwear and forcibly had sex with her, she claimed.

“He was biting me,” she told KUOW. “It was very painful.”

A second woman, Kristi Huok, also accused Stringfellow of biting her “all the way down” the arm as she drove home from a gig. The following morning, she woke to find the musician having sex with her against her will, she claimed.

The third accuser, Holly Nixon, entered a relationship with Stringfellow after they teamed up to make an album.

As they toured the US in 2015, the relationship became “more dramatic, abusive, and destructive”, and ended when he pressured her into having an abortion, she alleged.

‘Consensual and respectful’

KUOW also spoke to several women – including Stringfellow’s ex-wife Kim Warnick – who said he had not been abusive towards them.

“He never put a hand on me, but at the end of the day, it was horrible – what I had to deal with because of all his infidelities,” said Warnick, the bassist in Seattle punk band, Fastbacks. “Never ever marry a man for his voice.”

Stringfellow responded to the allegations in a written statement, saying: “I have never been into anything kinky, into anything rough.

“I experienced extreme violence first-hand as a teen. I’m sensitive to aggression, and it’s not something I can be around. I am not down with violence. I don’t want to hurt anyone, ever.”

A separate, joint statement with his current wife, Dominique, added: “As a family, we view sexual assault as a very serious issue. As an ethically non-monogamous married couple, we are particularly attuned to the importance of consent and communication in relationships. 

“Over the years, Ken has had consensual and respectful sexual relationships with other women, including the women making the allegations. Our commitment to each other made room for him to do that. 

“While we categorically deny these allegations, we respect these women and do not intend to speak negatively about them.”

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