Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler has been accused of sexual assault by four people — all of which he claims were “consensual” encounters.
On Saturday, music news covering magazine Pitchfork shared a long story, with three women and one person, who identifies as gender-fluid and uses they/them pronouns, that Butler, 42, assaulted them and used his status as a musician to pressure them into sexual situations.
Three women told Pitchfork that they had “interactions with Butler” when they were between the ages of 18 and 23 and when he was “between 36 and 39″ and the fourth person—who is gender-fluid and uses they/them pronouns—says that Butler “sexually assaulted them twice” in 2015 when he was 34 and they were 21 years old.
They were fans of Butler and women who said that their relationships were inappropriate due to an age gap and “power dynamics” between them and the singer.
All four requested not to use their real names. Pitchfork viewed the screenshots of text and Instagram messages between them and Butler, and interviewed friends and family members who said they recalled being told about the alleged incidents.
Why is Win Butler accused of sexual assault?
It is all started by the four people who shared their stories with Pitchfork. Pitchfork used pseudonyms for all four people, Lilly, Stella, Sarah, and Fiona.
Lily’s Story: First Accuser
Lily met Butler in Montreal in 2015. 21-year-old art student and 34-year-old local celebrity. After receiving Lily’s business card, Butler emailed her. He texted Lily his phone number. Lily says Butler “flirted with me all night,” but Butler says it was friendly. Butler reportedly liked their art.
Dozens of text messages after the first meeting show the couple’s differences. Lily wrote on Jan. 17, 2015, “If you are looking for sex, you found me at the wrong time.”
After their “date,” as Butler called it, they got drinks. Lily objects, saying they are in a long-term relationship and Butler is married. Lily denies Butler’s claim that their first kiss was mutual. Lily says they were open to befriending Butler.
Lily says they ate together on Feb. 26. Butler allegedly put his hands in Pitchfork’s pants without permission. Butler drove them home when Lily complained.
Butler says he only touched Lily’s inner thigh and she “glanced at me and said ‘not in the car’ flirtatiously.” Lily said Butler may have touched them through their pants, but it was a “very aggressive” touch to their crotch, not their inner thigh, and their response was not flirtatious. Their food varies. Lily remembers the dinner as awkward and says no kiss happened, but Butler says they “flirted all meal”.
Butler kissed Lily after dropping her off. A kiss confirmed their attraction, says Butler. Not asking. Lily: “I did not reciprocate.” It was short and bad.
Lily says Butler visited their apartment on February 28 despite her warnings. Butler arrived as Lily prepared for a Montreal art show. Butler was there. A few days later, he asked Lily if she was free. “[Lily] said [they were] busy with schoolwork, so I stopped by to say hi.”
Lily: “When I opened my door, he pinned me against the wall and stuck his tongue down my throat.” Butler: “It was a sexy attempt that did not work” “When [Lily] opened the door, we kissed immediately.” Who started it? It was mutual.”
Lily says Butler stayed. “He sat me down. He had his hand down my pants, whether he was holding me by the waist or not. He attacked, they said. They told him to leave again. My anger and strength surprised them. Remember. Butler chastised them, according to Lily.
Butler rejects nonconsensual behaviour. “We moved to [Lily’s] bed, but the mood felt off, so I asked if she was OK,” “Fast-paced. I never yelled or asked Lily to leave. No big deal, I said about the awkward mood change. Abandoned.”
After rejecting Butler’s advances, Lily texted an apology. “He thought my behaviour was weird, so maybe I was wrong.” they told Pitchfork about their behaviour. “Looking back, that exchange was manipulative. It works. I questioned my behaviour, “no,” and consent for months.
After Butler’s apology, Lily said they never spoke again. Lily considered the car and apartment incidents sexual assaults. Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact or behaviour.
Butler: “[Lily] apologised the next day.” “It was not a match, so I did not care. I stopped, checked in, and left without drama. Lily was not assaulted by me.
Lily quit her music industry job in 2020 amid sexual assault allegations in Montreal. In a resignation letter seen by Pitchfork, they described an unnamed figure whose description matches Butler’s and said his name had become too upsetting at work. Pitchfork says Lily told four others between 2015 and 2020.
Stella Story: Second Accuser
Stella (a pseudonym) first heard from Butler in 2016 after posting photos of him and Chassagne to Instagram from his annual charity basketball event, “POP vs. Jock,” Butler’s statement: “This woman smiled at me at a charity basketball event and tagged me on Instagram.”
Butler contacted Stella via Instagram. First message: “This is win.” “I saw your reflektor tour costume while looking at pop vs. jock photos and thought you looked familiar. Awesome! Regards.” Arcade Fire’s 2013 album Reflektor inspired fan costumes.
Butler invited Stella to a bar he owned with Chassagne and checked on her. He told her to text him in a few days. His phone message says, “I am very private and would appreciate it if you did not talk about me,” “Hope you are well :)”
Stella claims Butler sent her explicit texts after the bar meeting. “Sorry, I hate sexting.” she told Butler on Instagram. Stella’s screenshots show Butler asking about roommates. Butler did not know her age. “I googled her and knew she was 18.” said Butler.
Stella claims Butler sent her genital photos against her will, and a friend saw them on Pitchfork. “She was devastated.” Stella told a friend Oct. 23, 2016 via Facebook chat. “Win Butler sexually harassed me. Stella was uneasy. “Stumped. Always texting. Repeatedly.” Pitchfork confirmed Stella’s friend’s Facebook messages.
Stella denies Butler’s claim they sexted before their bar meeting. Later, she got drunk and asked where they could sleep together, he wrote. “I did not feel right about it, so I sent her home in a cab.”
Stella admits she was drunk and does not remember everything, but she denies the advance. She denied it. My friends stuck around. Pitchfork quoted Stella’s friend: “I was worried about her and wanted to leave. He was creepy to me, but her hero.
Butler sent Stella sexts after the bar but did not realise they were not welcome. “I was drunk when I texted her and thought she had not received my texts,” he said. “I misread her discomfort with the second round of sexting and assumed I hurt her feelings by not sleeping with her.” Stella’s account has no sexting before or at the bar, unlike Butler’s.
Stella could not last long. “I told him to stop sending texts and photos, but he did not listen.” Stella blocked two of Butler’s phone numbers in 2016 and his Instagram messages decreased.
Stella saw Arcade Fire in September 2017 and they messaged on Instagram in November. Stella wanted “get something out of the relationship”.
Five years later, Butler considered their age gap. “I did not realise the age difference’s significance,” he said. At 18, I did not realise how overwhelming it was.
Sarah Story: Third Accusor
Sarah told Pitchfork that Butler abused power. Each claims Butler responded to their Instagram love messages with explicit sexual videos.
The women describe similar poses, sex acts, camera lines, outfits, and sex toys. Both provided screenshots of Butler’s request for privacy. “Just promise me it is private and you will not tell people I messaged you or screen grab it!”
Sarah’s mother told Pitchfork that she noticed her daughter was not talking about Arcade Fire’s new album or buying tour tickets. Mom noticed Sarah’s depression. “She was spiralling and more troubled than I would seen her in a while, and I could not pinpoint why.” Sarah’s mom heard about Butler in a mall parking lot.
Butler rethinks his relationship with Sarah. “I love our fans, but this was unhealthy,” he said. We started sexting and talking, but I got uncomfortable when she came to my DJ events and restaurant. I asked security to keep her away. Sarah attended two of his DJ events in Montreal and Los Angeles after meeting him. She said her boyfriend was a waiter. Free food and drink. Who would disagree? Security eluded her.
Fiona Story: Fourth Accuser
Fiona and Butler met on Instagram after an Arcade Fire concert in Montreal, where Fiona was in the front row. Add sexual encounters. Butler knows. “Consensual. We slept and sextened. Her band tattoo was weird.
The night before Arcade Fire’s October 2017 concert in Vancouver, Fiona had a sexual encounter. Fiona says she swallowed extra-strength Tylenol. She cried. “The toll of keeping everything secret, ignoring my needs to appease him, lacking boundaries, and being the other woman was too much to ignore.”
Fiona’s friend said she told him about the sexual encounters and suicide attempt the next day and showed him a genital photo from Butler. A friend said Fiona became “distant” then.
“Almost a year later, she contacted me and said she missed me and wanted to sext again, which we did.” Butler said. Fiona denied sexting with him. Butler’s 65 DM screenshots show no 2018 or 2019 interactions.
Butler’s statement continues, “She later messaged me that hooking up with me was mental.”
“I vowed to never sleep with someone I knew so little about again, even though she said her depression was not related to me. Fearful. I understand her mental illness, which she says is unrelated to me. After that, we wrote like friends, and I felt healed. Before hearing the accusations, I had planned to meet him for coffee in Vancouver. She blamed him for her depression.”