Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple people, with a lengthy Pitchfork report on the accusations saying that the accusers had “sexual interactions with Butler that they came to feel were inappropriate given the gaps in age, power dynamics, and context in which they occurred.” 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 a fourth person—who is gender-fluid and uses they/them pronouns—says that Butler “sexually assaulted them twice” in 2015 when he was 34.
Pitchfork notes that it “viewed screenshots of text and Instagram messages” related to the accusations and that it “interviewed friends and family members who said they recalled being told about the alleged incidents.” The story features accounts from all four accusers, none of whom apparently knew each other before any of this, but their stories all involve them being Arcade Fire fans who met and befriended Butler in some way before their relationships with him became sexual—which, in a statement he gave to Pitchfork—he does not deny.
It’s after that where the stories diverge, with most of the accusers saying that Butler made unwanted advances and Butler saying that everything between him and these accusers had been entirely consensual. He even notes in his statement that he ended a relationship with one of the women after she told him that sleeping with him had been “difficult on her mentally,” and he then “committed to never sleeping with someone again that I fundamentally knew so little about.” (He also says that he “felt a little weird” after realizing that she had an Arcade Fire tattoo).
Butler acknowledges in his extensive statement to Pitchfork that he had “consensual relationships” with people outside of his marriage to Régine Chassagne (who is also in Arcade Fire with him), but he insists in his statement that, “every single one of these interactions has been mutual and always between consenting adults.” He adds that it is “deeply revisionist, and frankly just wrong, for anyone to suggest otherwise.” He also apologizes in his statement, saying, “I am very sorry to anyone who i have hurt with my behavior” and “I never want to be part of causing someone else’s pain.” He also notes that, in the time period covered in these accusations, he had “started drinking” to deal with “the heaviest depression of my life,” and that he has “long struggled with mental health issues and the ghosts of childhood abuse.”
Pitchfork says that at least one of the accusers (their accounts are all presented pseudonymously) found Butler’s statement “frustrating” because he both apologized and “challenged their recollections point by point. That accuser, who goes by Lily in the report, also said that, if Butler “could sit back for a moment and realize what he has done enough to understand that he has to change his behavior,” then “maybe that would be enough to protect other people moving forward.”
Butler’s full statement to Pitchfork is below, as is the full statement from Chassagne, in which she says that she has “watched him suffer through immense pain” and has stood by him because “he is a good man who cares about this world, our band, his fans, friends, and our family.” She also says that he “has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent,” and that “he has lost his way and he has found his way back.”
Statement from Win Butler:
I love Régine with all of my heart. We have been together for twenty years, she is my partner in music and in life, my soulmate and I am lucky and grateful to have her by my side. But at times, it has been difficult to balance being the father, husband, and bandmate that I want to be. Today I want to clear the air about my life, poor judgment, and mistakes I have made.
I have had consensual relationships outside of my marriage.
There is no easy way to say this, and the hardest thing I have ever done is having to share this with my son. The majority of these relationships were short lived, and my wife is aware – our marriage has, in the past, been more unconventional than some. I have connected with people in person, at shows, and through social media, and I have shared messages of which I am not proud. Most importantly, every single one of these interactions has been mutual and always between consenting adults. It is deeply revisionist, and frankly just wrong, for anyone to suggest otherwise.
I have never touched a woman against her will, and any implication that I have is simply false. I vehemently deny any suggestion that I forced myself on a woman or demanded sexual favors. That simply, and unequivocally, never happened.
While these relationships were all consensual, I am very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behavior. Life is filled with tremendous pain and error, and I never want to be part of causing someone else’s pain.
I have long struggled with mental health issues and the ghosts of childhood abuse. In my 30s, I started drinking as I dealt with the heaviest depression of my life after our family experienced a miscarriage. None of this is intended to excuse my behavior, but I do want to give some context and share what was happening in my life around this time. I no longer recognized myself or the person I had become. Régine waited patiently watching me suffer and tried to help me as best as she could. I know it must have been so hard for her to watch the person she loved so lost.
I have been working 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 have put significant time and energy into therapy and healing, including attending AA. I am more aware now of how my public persona can distort relationships even if a situation feels friendly and positive to me. I am very grateful to Régine, my family, my dear friends, and my therapist, who have helped me back from the abyss that I felt certain at times would consume me. The bond I share with my bandmates and the incredibly deep connection I’ve made with an audience through sharing music has literally saved my life.
As I look to the future, I am continuing to learn from my mistakes and working hard to become a better person, someone my son can be proud of. I say to you all my friends, family, to anyone I have hurt and to the people who love my music and are shocked and disappointed by this report: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the pain I caused - I’m sorry I wasn’t more aware and tuned in to the effect I have on people - I fucked up, and while 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 from Régine Chassagne:
Win is my soulmate, my songwriting partner, my husband, the father of my beautiful boy. He has been my partner in life and in music for 20 years. And for all of the love in our lives, I have also watched him suffer through immense pain. I have stood by him because I know he is a good man who cares about this world, our band, his fans, friends, and our family. I’ve known Win since before we were “famous,” when we were just ordinary college students. I know what is in his heart, and I know he has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent and I am certain he never did. He has lost his way and he has found his way back. I love him and love the life we have created together.