Content warning: This article contains descriptions of alleged sexual misconduct.
Ken Stringfellow of the Posies, who’s also played with Big Star and R.E.M., has been accused of sexual misconduct by three women. The Posies, the Washington power-pop band he co-founded 35 years ago, are “in the process of breaking up” as a result of the allegations, Stringfellow’s former bandmates say.
In an investigative piece published October 25 by Seattle radio station KUOW.org, one woman accused Stringfellow of “forcibly [having] sex with her in a men’s room at a hotel in San Francisco”, while another said she had been in an “abusive” relationship with the musician.
A third woman said she woke up one morning to Stringfellow having sex with her, and that on a separate occasion he bit her arm, leaving marks and bruising. Stringfellow has “categorically” denied the allegations.
KUOW interviewed over 20 people for the story, and says it reviewed medical records, emails and texts as part of its investigation into the claims. Seven women who claimed they had been “intimate” with Stringfellow said the musician had not been abusive towards them, but four accused him of unwanted biting and being “controlling”.
One of those women was Stringfellow’s ex-wife Kim Warnick of the bands Visqueen and the Fastbacks, who said that while her ex-husband was never physically abusive, the relationship was “horrible”, and indicated Stringfellow had had “infidelities”.
In a statement shared with NME, Stringfellow said: “I would never want to harm anyone with whom I have a relationship – sexual or otherwise.
“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.”
Stringfellow also provided NME a statement from him and his wife Dominique: “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.”
KUOW also reported Stringfellow as saying: “I have never been into anything kinky, into anything rough. I experienced extreme violence firsthand 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.”
The allegations appear to have led to both of Stringfellow’s Posies bandmates leaving the trio. Jon Auer, who formed the band with Stringfellow in 1986, said he left the band “very quickly” about speaking to the woman who accused Stringfellow of sexually assaulting her in San Francisco, who is a friend of his.
“What she described to me was super disturbing, and it made my position immediately clear,” he told KUOW. “I confronted Ken about it on a phone call on Aug 4, 2021, and cancelled our upcoming shows, and flat-out told him that I wouldn’t be working with him anymore.”
Drummer Frankie Siragura resigned from the band on August 9, he said in a post on his Facebook account on September 17, but did not initially reveal the reasons behind his departure. He has since linked to the KUOW article on his account, writing that he was “gutted”.
Since their formation in 1986, the Posies have released eight studio albums, the last being 2016’s ‘Solid States’. They toured regularly prior to the beginning of the pandemic last year, and performed at ZooTunes 2021 in Seattle in July this year.
Outside of the Posies, Stringfellow also performed as a live member of R.E.M. on multiple tours (the last being in 2005) and appeared on several of the band’s records. Stringfellow and Auer were both recruited to join a reunited Big Star in 1993, performing with the band up until frontman Alex Chilton’s death in 2010.