We Need To Talk About These Maynard James Keenan Allegations
By now, you may have already heard about a story told over Twitter involving Maynard James Keenan of Tool/A Perfect Circle, an underage fan, and allegations of sexual assault. We should talk about it.
On Friday evening an anonymous Twitter account with the handle @Iwas17HeWas36 recounted over a series of Tweets a story in which she claims she was sexually assaulted by Maynard James Keenan, lead singer for Tool and A Perfect Circle, on the band’s tour bus at a show in the year 2000. I’m printing the full sequence of tweets below in case they get taken down. It is an upsetting read that contains graphic descriptions. Please read at your own discretion.
Deep breath. I have to anonymously tell this story because I tried to tell it from my real account and couldn’t name him directly out of fear, so I deleted the tweets. Here goes: I was 17 and he was 36.
I went to see A Perfect Circle and NIN in the year 2000 with my high school boyfriend. I will leave out the city in an attempt to protect myself. We were looking forward to this all year as both of us were really huge fans, teenagers obsessed with great music.
We were in the front row and my boyfriend had his arms around me. The band started. Maynard noticed me in the crowd. Not that it matters what I wore, but I was wearing a NIN tank top and baggy cargo pants with flat-soled combat boots. Maynard saw me and threw a water bottle in my direction. The guy next to me caught it. My boyfriend and I laughed and thought that was cool.
Minutes later, a heavy-set, blonde, white woman came out to meet us. She looked at me and asked, “Do you want to meet the band?” I said, “Can my boyfriend come with me?” The heavyset woman said “I only have one pass. You can meet them now if you want.” I told my bf that I’d see him in a few minutes, and then I followed her backstage. She led me back to the VIP area, and I never saw her again.
Maynard was sitting on a picnic table and was staring at me. NIN hadn’t gone on yet so I thought I had plenty of time to get an autograph and get back to the show and my boyfriend. I didn’t have a piece of paper, so I asked Maynard to sign my hand. I was ready to go back with my bf. NIN was starting and I didn’t want to miss it. But Maynard kept chatting. He asked me how old I was. I said, “I’m 17.” Then he said, “I can’t talk to you here, let’s go watch a movie” and he pulled me away from everyone and onto a tour bus.
He led me to a bed in the back on the bus and closed the door. He put on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I decided to watch a few minutes and at least have a weird story to tell my boyfriend later. Yes, 17 year-olds can be naïve. This is why older men target teenage girls. He started rubbing my neck. At this point, I fell silent. He talked about the film, Johnny Depp, and Hunter S. Thompson while he started taking his pants off. All I could do was sit there, looking at the movie, unable to move. I froze so he had to move my body into a missionary position. He pulled off my cargo pants. He forced himself in- there was no attempt at “warming up”. I mention this because this wasn’t about sex. This was about raping me as fast as he could. He penetrated my vagina without a condom, moving rapidly, while I lay there frozen in a stunned silence. If I sound clinical it’s because it has been a long time and I have tried to push down any sort of fear or shame that comes with a rape. There was no consent made. I was not high. I was clean. He did not seduce me, he forced me, quickly taking advantage of my paralyzed state. It took me years to process his actions. He came all over my torso and didn’t wipe me off. There were stains on my tank top when I left.
I don’t remember the next few minutes but I do remember this- my boyfriend was waiting for me at the doorway where I had been led. His face was sick with worry. I didn’t want to upset him so I kept it to myself. I’m sure to some this doesn’t sound like rape. I’m telling this story because in the year 2000 the conversation about consent was non-existent, at least not at my high school. Statutory rape in this state is 16 and under. Lucky for him he beat it by 1 year.
It has been 18 years and I’m still working through the trauma of that assault. #MeToo and #TimesUp has been an eye opener. I hope that everyone gets a chance to heal. I hope I can heal. Maybe telling your story is part of the healing process for victims of sexual assault. I kept it in for years because I knew I wasn’t going to be believed by he legion of dedicated fans. Because he chose to not use a condom when he raped me, he also gave me a strain of HPV, which thankfully was not the cancerous type.
Later on, I heard from a male friend that he did this in every city, at every show. He preferred underage girls (or as close to underage as he could get). What happened to me has likely happened to a lot of underage girls by this same man. A warning to Maynard James Keenan and all men: leave underage girls alone. Do not take advantage of a girl’s kindness and trust. She deserves to keep her self-confidence and happiness forever.
I’ve carried a sense of deep shame from this assault for many years. I thought it was my fault. How could I let him do this to me? But he was 36. I was 17. He knew exactly what he was getting away with. What could I have done differently? My body was paralyzed. Now that I am approaching the age that Maynard James Keenan was when he assaulted me, the thought of assaulting a 17 year-old is completely unthinkable. Just unthinkable. We have to train men to think rape is as unthinkable as cannibalism.
This story, which has since been reported by Ultimate Guitar, will surely only get bigger. In the days since this Twitter thread was posted, longtime Tool fans have taken to the Internet to discuss things that they’ve seen and heard over the band’s nearly 30 year history. Some fans in the Tool subreddit shared their stories of untoward behavior by the vocalist.
Another Tool fan disputed the story told by @Iwas17HeWas36 by claiming that Maynard’s crew followed very detailed steps to ensure they only obtained willing fans of legal age for sex with the vocalist.
We have attempted to reach out to the person behind @Iwas17HeWas36 but have been unsuccessful so far. Neither Maynard James Keenan nor a representative for his bands have made a statement about these claims at this point.
As with every instance of a beloved public figure being accused of a heinous action, people will have hard, knee-jerk reactions to this story. I would encourage fans of Tool, APC, and other Keenan projects, to carefully read the original story and try to empathize with her situation, especially given additional stories about Maynard’s questionable history with groupies.
I felt sick just reading her account and I can’t imagine how this woman feels having lived through it and with the memory of it for almost 20 years. One line in particular stands out to me: “I’m sure to some this doesn’t sound like rape”. Rape Culture is real, and as unfathomable as it is to me as an individual, I know for a fact that there is an alarming number of people who seem to think that another person standing/laying paralyzed in place without saying a word means “I can keep going here unless I hear a ‘no’”. Folks, that is not consent. Consent is saying, enthusiastically and independently: YES. There is no grey area here. If you read this story, it is clear that the alleged actions constitute the sexual assault of a 17 year-old girl. It’s also possible that Maynard, a 36 year-old father in this story, wasn’t clear on this considering the near non-existent discussion of consent 20 years ago. That doesn’t make it okay.
Do not expect any legal action to result from these anonymous claims. If the person behind the Twitter account came out and tried, it would be almost impossible to prove in a court of law that an assault ever transpired. Victims of sexual violence can sometimes take many, many years to process and unpack the abuse they suffered. By this time, any opportunity to collect evidence is long gone. Even in cases of very recent abuse, it is unlikely for an abuser to suffer criminal consequences. If you’d like to believe that justice is always served keep these numbers in mind.
By RAINN’s statistics, 0.7% of accused rapists are convicted and only 0.6% are incarcerated. 69% of rapes are never even reported to police for a wide array of reasons. These numbers reflect only recent cases where there is DNA evidence and even external witnesses.
Inevitably, people come out of the woodwork to speculate about the motivations of the alleged victim and opine on the possibility of falsified claims. Bear in mind that 10% of rape reports are false and only 31% of rapes are reported in the first place.
If your reaction to stories about sexual assault, especially high-profile ones that involve people with power and influence, is to side with the accused, that is your own choice. Passing an individual moral judgement does not equal a court conviction. It is up to everyone to read this story to draw their own conclusions. Because of all the unnervingly in-character details and the uncanny similarities to other stories I’ve seen online and heard from other fans, the least we can do is show some empathy for this woman.
I got a lot of very good info from this article by TovH contributor Nina Osegueda. Please take the time to read it.