Win Butler, who stars with his wife Régine Chassagne in Arcade Fire, has been accused of sexual misconduct by four people.
In a report published by Fork On Saturday, August 27, three female Arcade Fire fans and a fourth person who is gender fluid and uses they/them pronouns claimed that they had sexual interactions with Butler when they were between 18 and 23 years old that they deemed inappropriate; one of them claimed to have been sexually assaulted by the musician. In a statement given to the publication, Butler said the extramarital affair was consensual.
Billboard contacted a representative for Butler, who said he had no further comment beyond the statement provided to Fork.
The alleged incidents took place between the years 2015 and 2020. The alleged victims asked to use pseudonyms for confidentiality. Fork viewed screenshots of text and Instagram messages and interviewed friends and family members of those who spoke out.
One person alleged Butler sexually assaulted them twice in 2015, when they were art students at 21 and he was 34. They viewed their interactions as only friendly, while Butler remembered them as flirtatious. They said one incident happened while they were in a car together – where he allegedly stuck his hands in or through their pants without consent – and the other happened when he s showed up at their apartment despite being told not to come.
“I opened my door and he slammed me against the wall and aggressively grabbed my body and stuck his tongue down my throat,” they recalled. “Finally he pulled me onto his knees on my couch. I don’t know if he was holding me by the waist or what, but I was physically restrained by him as he put his hand down my pants. at one point he tried to put me down… The anger and power in my voice startled me. I’ll never forget that.”
Butler denied any non-consensual behavior, noting that “it was like the mood was weird, so I stopped and asked if [they were] OKAY. It looked like things might be moving a little fast. [They] never asked me to leave, and I never reprimanded [them]. I expressed genuine confusion about how the mood had changed so suddenly and become awkward. I said it didn’t matter at all. I stopped and left.
The other woman first met Butler in 2016, when she was an 18-year-old college student and he was 36. She had attended POP vs. Jock, a charity basketball event hosted by Butler, and had shared photos from the event and tagged it on Instagram. Butler sent her a direct message on Instagram and invited her for a drink at a bar he co-owned with his wife. The woman claimed that after that meeting, Butler repeatedly sent her explicit texts and photos without her consent or reciprocation; she said she told him she was uncomfortable and texted him, “Sorry, I really hate sexting.” Butler, meanwhile, claimed that ‘we met for a drink and she got drunk and forcefully asked me if there was somewhere we could sleep together’, but the woman denied. have made an advance.
Butler noted to Pitchfork, “I didn’t realize how big the age difference was at the time. I can now see how overwhelming it could be to think back to when I was 18, but at the time, I didn’t enjoy it.
Two other women, aged 20 and 23 at the time of their alleged interactions with Butler, claimed Butler connected with them on Instagram with a casual chat which then asked him to send explicit sex videos and to keep his secret messages.
One of these women said she didn’t like to do “sex stuff” on video but “I did everything because it was him”, recalling that “I remember being so nervous and so ashamed of having done so”. His mother said of this period: “What really struck me was his depression. I noticed her spiraling and more troubled than I had seen her in a while, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Butler expressed a different view: “I love our fans but it was unhealthy fandom,” he claimed. “We started sexting and talking a lot, but I got more and more uncomfortable when she started coming to all my DJ events and showing up at my restaurant multiple times.”
Another woman connected with Butler on Instagram after being front row at an Arcade Fire concert in Montreal. They developed a sexual relationship, which she says made her feel “incredibly low” and said she had attempted suicide. “The cost of having to keep everything secret, constantly pushing my needs away to appease him, the lack of boundaries and the guilt of being the other woman became too much to ignore,” she said.
Butler acknowledged the relationship — he said it “was consensual. We were sexting and ended up having sex a few times. The first time I realized she had a tattoo of my band, which was honestly a little weird” – and said later she made it clear to her that their relationship “had been hard on her mentally , which was really surprising and very sad for me. We immediately spoke on the phone and although she indicated that her depression was unrelated to me, I left that conversation pledging never to sleep with someone I knew so little again. It really shook me up. Although she repeated that it had nothing to do with me, she suffered from a mental illness, to which I am very sensitive.
This woman said Fork of his depression, “It was absolutely related to him.”
In May, Arcade Fire released their sixth studio album, WE, which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Three of the band’s previous albums – 2010 The suburbs2013 Reflector and 2017 Everything now – topped the Billboard 200 at No. 1.
See statements from Butler and Chassagne, first published in full by Pitchfork, below.
Statement from Win Butler:
I love Regina with all my heart. We have been together for twenty years, she is my partner in music and in life, my soul mate and I am lucky and grateful to have her by my side. But sometimes it’s been difficult to balance being the father, husband, and bandmate that I want to be. Today I want to clarify my life, my lack of judgment and the mistakes I made.
I’ve had consensual relationships outside of my marriage.
There’s no easy way to say this, and the hardest thing I’ve ever done is share this with my son. The majority of these relationships have been short-lived, and my wife is aware of this – our marriage has, in the past, been less conventional than some. I’ve connected with people in person, at trade shows, and through social media, and shared posts that I’m not proud of. More importantly, each of these interactions was mutual and always between consenting adults. It is deeply revisionist, and frankly just plain wrong, for anyone to suggest otherwise.
I’ve never touched a woman against her will, and any involvement I have is just plain wrong. I vehemently deny any suggestion that I have forced myself on a woman or demanded sexual favors. This, simply and unequivocally, never happened.
Although these relationships were all consensual, I am truly sorry to anyone I hurt through my behavior. Life is filled with tremendous pain and mistakes, and I never want to help cause anyone else’s pain.
I have long struggled with mental health issues and the ghosts of child abuse. In my thirties, I started drinking as I faced the most severe depression of my life after our family had a miscarriage. None of this is meant to excuse my behavior, but I want to give some context and share what was going on in my life at that time. I no longer recognized myself or the person I had become. Régine waited patiently to watch me suffer and tried to help me as best she could. I know it must have been so hard for her to see the person she loved so dearly lost.
I worked hard on myself – not out of fear or shame, but because I am a human being who wants to improve despite my flaws and damage. I’ve spent the last few years since Covid hit trying to save that part of my soul. I devoted a great deal of time and energy to therapy and healing, including attending AA. I’m more aware now of how my public persona can skew relationships, even if a situation seems friendly and positive to me. I am very grateful to Régine, my family, my dear friends and my therapist, who helped me out of the abyss that I was sure would sometimes consume me. The bond I share with my bandmates and the incredibly deep connection I’ve made with an audience by sharing music has literally saved my life.
Looking to the future, I continue to learn from my mistakes and work hard to become a better person, someone my son can be proud of. I say to all of my friends, family, everyone I’ve hurt, and people who love my music who are shocked and disappointed by this report: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused – I’m sorry for not being more aware and in tune with the effect I have on people – I messed up, and although it’s not an excuse, I will continue to look forward and heal what can be healed and learn from past experiences. I can do better and I will do better.
Statement by Régine Chassagne:
Win is my soul mate, my songwriting partner, my husband, the father of my handsome boy. He was my partner in life and in music for 20 years. And for all the love in our lives, I also saw him suffer immense pain. I supported him because I know he is a good man who cares about this world, our band, his fans, his friends and our family. I’ve known Win since before we were “famous”, when we were just regular students. I know what’s in his heart, and I know he has never and never would touch a woman without her consent and I’m sure he never has. He lost his way and he found his way. I love him and I love the life we’ve created together.