Music

At Least Eight Women Have Accused Ex-Real Estate Guitarist Matt Mondanile Of Sexual Assault

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Earlier today we shared a story tweeted publicly by Zoë Ligon, a journalist and sex educator who lives in Detroit accusing musician Matt Mondanile of coercive sex and follow up texts offering to pay Ligon if she would “come over.”

Her story followed on the heels of a Friday report by Pitchfork that Mondanile’s former Real Estate bandmates had split ways with him back in 2016 due to knowledge of similar allegations, which they chose not to share until last week, seemingly prompted by an outpouring of attention to issues of sexual assault, harassment, and rape, brought about by women coming forward about Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior.

Now, Spin has published a report detailing allegations from seven women against Mondanile for assault. Taken together with Ligon’s story, that means at least eight women have levied charges against him. Spin also previously reported a publicist’s statement confirming knowledge of the allegations and alluded to their longer account that would be published with further comment from Mondanile. Ligon said she shared her story publicly out of frustration that Mondanile was given time to comment.

No comment from him came, besides an initial denial to Pitchfork, which was reportedly given before Real Estate publicly revealed the real reason for parting ways with their former guitarist. But, the stories from the alleged victims was published this afternoon, with the oldest allegation coming from a student who attended Hampshire College with him about a decade ago, and one of the most recent reported to be around 2013. Spin did not include Ligon’s public comments in the seven allegations that were published today, bringing the total tally of women who have come forward up to eight.

“I spoke with many, many other victims of his unwanted sexual advances,” Ligon told me today via phone. “Many of us did not feel like this was a life-changing pivotal assault, especially the way he brushed it off — which was definitely gas-lighting. As young girls in the Brooklyn indie rock scene, we thought this was just part of our experience in dealing with this genre of music. Especially the experiences that happened a long time ago, there was not this level of discourse about this. Now, I’m actually a sex educator for work, so I’m very articulate about it, which I definitely wasn’t back then.”

It’s unclear exactly when Mondanile’s bandmates learned of the allegations against him, but Spin‘s reporting cites the inclusion of a new band member, Jackson Pollis, in the lineup as part of the impetus for ousting him. After he became aware of the allegations, Pollis reportedly told his other bandmates they needed to choose between Mondanile or him. However, according to the Spin report, all the women who came forward alleging that his behavior had been discussed in his social circle already.

Ligon notes that her account occurred in 2012, and that most of the women and girls she’s talked to who shared similar experiences had these encounters when they were underage, or barely 21.

“Mondanile continues to victimize people mostly between the ages of 16 and 21,” she further noted. “It’s almost always with illegal substances coke, or alcohol, which is illegal for an underage person. When you have a drunk 19-year-old, that’s not consensual sex. At the time I thought, ‘oh this guy is really cool and powerful, so even if this sucks for me, I’m being idealized and privilege in the eyes of this man.’ So who would call that rape? At that point in time, the way sexism within the scene was being talked about, it would’ve been outrageous for a 19-year-old to come out against an established musician. I would see him in the scene, and he would keep his distance because he knew he had fucked up. I don’t want him locked away, because I don’t think that’s a solution, but I do think he’s a genuine threat to society, and every promoter and venue that continues to book him is at the point where they’re putting young women in danger.”

We have sent multiple requests for comment to Mondanile and will update with a statement from him if we receive one. According to Spin, he has not returned requests for comment but did reach out to a victim begging her not to out him. “I just don’t know how to say this other than I’m not so old and I have so much life to live,” he reportedly wrote in part of the messages. “I’ve learned from my mistakes and been very good for a long time.”

In the meantime, Pitchfork has posted specific responses from Mondanile before Real Estate outed him last Friday.

“There’s nothing I can tell you other than that I’ve done nothing wrong at all,” he told Pitchfork. “There’s nothing to find out about me at all.” Mondanile was firm that no women would come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct saying, “No. Not at all. No way. There’s nothing like that.” He also continued to hold the line that his behavior had nothing to do with his severed relationship with Real Estate, and that “they wouldn’t say anything. Those are my friends.”

As for Real Estate, they issued a clarifying statement saying the reason they did not come forward with the information earlier was because the women who had confided in them at the time did not want to make their allegations public.

“At the time of Matt’s dismissal from the band, the women we had spoken with requested privacy and we honored their wishes. We remain in complete support of the affected women, and will continue to stand by any decisions they make regarding the further pursuit of this matter.”

For further context on the allegations made by women against Mondanile, the official definition of sexual assault issued by the Department of Justice is the following: “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

This story is developing and the post may be updated with additional information.

If you are a victim or survivor of sexual assault, resources for support are available through RAINN‘s National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

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