Detroit DJ Derrick May denies accusations of sexual assault from four women

An investigation by DJ Mag has published a series of allegations spanning two decades

Detroit-based techno DJ Derrick May has been accused of physical, verbal and sexual assault by four women in a new investigation.

Content warning: the following story contains descriptions of sexual assault.

The testimonies, brought forward in a new investigation by DJ Mag, span 20 years and are alleged to have taken place in the US, the UK and New Zealand.

One woman alleged May invited her to Detroit to work on a festival with him, and while she was being shown around May “spun me around and sat me down on the stairs in one movement, and he pulled out and held his penis”.

Another woman, anonymous but referred to as Lara in the investigation, claimed May sexually assaulted her in the UK when she was a teenager.

She said: “Before this happened, I wanted to be a DJ and had been saving up to buy decks — but I felt like I’d fucked it all up before it even started. I was worried about running into him in person, and him shouting or getting angry at me.

“I really felt like he would have the power to say ‘remove that girl from the bill’ or ‘blacklist her’ if he ever saw my name on a line-up, which sounds ridiculous now. But I really thought he was that powerful.”

Lisa, another woman interviewed in the investigation, says that while she was working as a hotel receptionist in Amsterdam in 2008, May was staying at the hotel. When she showed him to his room, May “grabbed [her] and threw [her] against the wall”.

In a statement given to DJ Mag in response, May denied the allegations, writing: “As a black man working in a white-dominated and openly biased industry, am I expected to have learned the painful lesson that there is no such thing as truth, fairness, or due process? When will the long, storied history of weaponising the sexuality of African American men end?

“Must I collaborate under duress with my own victimisation at the hands of an openly hostile press that amplifies the so-called fears of privileged, anonymous women in an internet-mediated lynching? I have no interest in legitimising these distortions. Women are the conduit of life, and as such, are to be protected, and not exploited. I live by those words.”

May is credited as a pioneer of Detroit techno, and formed the Belleville Three alongside Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson in the 1980s.

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