Content Warning: The following article contains discussion of sexual assault.
The members of now-defunct Melbourne indie pop band Alpine have responded to reports that guitarist Christian O’Brien has been charged with the alleged sexual assault of a teenager.
The charge was laid earlier this year, but was first reported this week after details emerged in a Melbourne Magistrates Court hearing on Monday (November 30).
Per The Age, the incident allegedly occurred on Little Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD on August 2 last year. O’Brien is accused of having “intentionally sexually touched the complainant, a child under the age of 16, in circumstances where the touching was contrary to community standards of acceptable conduct”.
In January, police issued a warrant for O’Brien’s arrest after receiving information from the public based on a photo and description of the alleged perpetrator. A court document also reveals O’Brien fled to Brisbane to “avoid apprehension” for the alleged crime.
“The accused is failing to engage with investigators and investigators believe he is likely to flee the country,” the document says.
In a statement given to NME, the five other former members of Alpine – Phoebe Baker, Tim Royall, Phil Tucker, Ryan Lamb and Lou James – said they were “deeply concerned and saddened by these allegations”.
“Any matter of sexual assault is an extremely serious one, however, as the matter is still before the courts we are advised that we are unable to provide further comment at this time,” they said.
“Our thoughts are with those involved and hope all parties have the privacy and support required to deal with this devastating matter.”
They also revealed that Alpine had disbanded in 2019 and would not be releasing music or playing shows in the future. “It is very disappointing to announce this news in this way to our fans,” they wrote.
“A reminder that help is available on 1800 RESPECT, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you need any support on such affecting issues.”
O’Brien’s next court appearance is a contest mention – where both the plaintiff and defendant are asked if the case can be resolved without a contested hearing – and is set for February 18, 2021.
Alpine formed in 2009, releasing their debut album ‘A is for Alpine’ in 2012 and receiving an ARIA nomination for Breakthrough Artist. They released their second album, ‘Yuck’, in 2015, before taking a hiatus. Last April they returned with a new single, ‘Dumb’.