NewsJuly 26, 2023 4:30 PM ET9,579 views

Anti-Flag respond to sexual assault allegations


Last week Anti-Flag's unexpected breakup sent shockwaves through their fanbase. Speculation surrounding the band's sudden split significantly gained traction when an episode of the "Enough." podcast was released on the same day. During the podcast, a guest detailed allegations of sexual assault involving an east coast political punk band. 

Threads on social media and comments sections pointed to striking similarities between the allegations and Anti-Flag's vocalist, Justin Sane. While the accused remained anonymous, the narrative described an encounter between a fan and the singer at a show, followed by a later meeting at a hotel bar.

The guest describes breaking edge at the hotel bar: 

"Before we got back to his room, we went to a shitty bar at the hotel. I'm straight edge, and this person was straight edge. He is very famously straight edge, which is a major reason that I was straight edge. That night he told me that his fiance had just cheated on him and moved away to England with her new boyfriend, and he decided he was going to break edge. So we both did together. We were drinking, I think like, Coronas at the bar, I don't even know. I do know that after a beer or two, he started ordering pickleback shots. 

So I was doing those for the first time. Again, I'm like a hundred pounds, it's already too much. I don't know, like two Coronas is too much, and now you're doing pickleback shots for the first time? So you have no idea of tolerance or alcohol percentage or anything like that. 

You're also with someone who you have idolized for a very long time, who you like, even if you're not interested in them romantically, you're like low-key trying to impress. I want to say he was about 40. and I was 22. so I don't know if I believe that he had never if he had always been straight edge"

She explained further:

"As soon as we got to his room which was a tiny dingy dorm room basically, with bunk beds and like a wooden dresser, wooden bunk beds, and that's it. So he closes the door, he locks the door, and then before I can even turn around, or look for the computer that he was gonna play this song on, it didn't even occur to me. He screamed "FOOTBALL TACKLE!" and tackled me onto the bed, which is like, the most terrifying way to begin a sexual assault. I would say it sounded playful, and he was giggling about it. But also, as soon as I hit the bed he put his hand around my throat and basically turned into a monster. 

To this day I still have flashes of his face above me holding me down. He only needed one hand to hold my entire body down because it was around my throat. He is not a large person, but definitely larger and stronger than I was, and he just proceeded to violently attack me. I won't get into details, but there are several moments that I thought I was dying. I definitely may have passed out, or I thought I was about to pass out. I couldn't breathe, I didn't have any oxygen, I was crying, screaming, telling him to stop, but he didn't. It went on for a very long time, I couldn't tell you how long, I just know it was the most terrifying thing I've ever experienced. 

Probably the most confusing thing I've ever experienced because in the same moment, it was this person I can remember lying in bed as a teenager and looking up to see this person's face smiling with his guitar and his bandmates and right now I am in the same position being held in place by that same man who is just unrecognizable."

While the accusations were never directly tied to the Anti-Flag vocalist, the timing of the band's abrupt absence from their online platforms upon the release of the podcast raised eyebrows. Additionally, the guest pointed to a post on The Industry Ain't Safe from March 2022 that hinted at similar experiences naming Justin Sane by name.

Today, the band finally broke their silence and responded to the allegations in an official statement posted on Justin Sane's Instagram account. In it Justin denies the accusations and addressed the band's decision to disband, citing the impossibility of continuing under such circumstances.

The remaining members of Anti-Flag, Chris Barker, Chris Head, and Pat Thetic, issued their own statement and apologized for the delay in responding. As a result, Anti-Flag remains disbanded, leaving fans with little closure and a lot of mixed emotions.

Justin's statement read:

"Recently, there have been claims of sexual assault made against me and I can tell you that these stories are categorically false. I have never engaged in a sexual relationship that was not consensual, nor have I ever been approached by a woman after a sexual encounter and been told I had in any way acted without her consent or violated her in any way. Now that I have had a few days to absorb the initial shock, I am making this statement to set the record straight.

Sexual assault is real and has a devasting impact on victims. I have devoted my entire adult life to standing up for these victims as well as those suffering oppression and inequality, who are victimized, demeaned, and abused. I have always been, and will always be, that person. The statements being told about me are the antithesis of what I believe and how I have conducted myself throughout my life.

In regard to Anti-flag disbanding, as a band, the decision was made that under these circumstances it would be impossible to continue.

I want to thank my family and friends, and the many, many fans, musicians, and bands who have reached out to me to offer their support and help."

A statement by the rest of the band reads:

"A core tenet of the band Anti-Flag is to listen to and believe all survivors of sexual violence and abuse. The recent allegations about Justin are in direct contradiction to that tenet. Therefore, we felt the only immediate option was to disband.

We have been shocked, confused, saddened and absolutely heartbroken from the moment we heard these allegations. While we believe this is extremely serious, in the last 30 years we have never seen Justin be violent or aggressive toward women. This experience has shaken us to our core.

We understand and apologize that this response may not have been quick enough for some people. This is new territory for all of us and it is taking time for us to process the situation.

It was a privilege for us to be in the band Anti-Flag, as we seek to find our path forward we wish healing to all survivors.

- Chris, Chris, and Pat"

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