Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault.
Chris Whitehall of Sydney band The Griswolds has responded to allegations that he groomed and sexually assaulted underage girls.
His statement comes in response to the accounts of two women posting to social media that Whitehall preyed on them when they were minors. The women claim that Whitehall, now in his 30s, was a grown man at the time that these alleged incidents took place.
Kelly Blaus posted details of the singer’s alleged actions on Twitter last weekend; depicting Chris Whitehall as a sexual predator. “I was still a child throughout the course of our relationship, vulnerable and terrified, far too young to consent to the things that happened with this much older man,” she writes in the statement. “He abused the power he held over me.” At the time Whitehall allegedly entered her life, Blaus was 16 years old. You can read the disturbing statement in full below.
Another user @GabbraCadabra shared an account of being groomed by the singer at the age of 17. The user shared a screenshot of what seems to be a conversation with the vocalist, where she reveals she's "almost 18". “Suuurious?????” Whitehall replies. “God I’m a paedophile” he responds according to the screengrabs. Have a look at her post below.
The singer has since responded to the allegations on his Twitter account, without referring to any specific individual or incident. “To the women that have come out, I’m so deeply sorry that I hurt you and that I disrespected you”.
“I would like to encourage women to keep sharing their stories” he later said, “if there are more stories that need to come out, if there are more things that need to be brought to my attention, then I want to confront it,” he said.
He later says he has a lot of “learning, growing and healing” to do, adding that he would be seeking professional help.
Blaus wasn't impressed by the singer's response. “These were not women. These were CHILDREN. I was a child. Since posting my story yesterday, DOZENS of other victims have reached out to me. You stole our childhoods and we will never get that back. Don’t blame the industry or the drugs. You had sex with children.”
She also called the singer out for focusing on his own "growing and healing" instead of speaking to how survivors were impacted (and continue to be impacted) by the alleged abuse. "How great for you that you were able to grow and change in the last few years," she said. "I've been diagnosed with PTSD".
The story comes amid what looks to be an overdue #MeToo moment in the Australian music industry.
Just last month, Musician Jaguar Jonze (Deena Lynch) revealed she was sexually abused by two producers. In the process, she unearthed at least 59 sexual misconduct allegations against Melbourne music photographer Jack Stafford when she encouraged other survivors to reach out to her. Stafford admitted to being "an abuser" in a statement posted to Medium and also declared he’d be sending himself off to see a shrink. Lynch's full statement is below.
Well, what can we say. These therapists certainly have their work cut out for them. What a mess.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, there are plenty of ways to seek help. Jump on over to Headspace (ages 12-25) or call Lifeline (all ages) on 13 11 14 to speak to someone. Kids Helpline has some great resources on their website, too, and a 24/7 call line at 1800 55 1800.
This article has since been edited to make clearer the nature of the allegations.
Main Image Credit: @thegriswolds, Instagram