Women detail sexual misconduct allegations against former The Dead South band member
Song some say condones rape, violence back in question
Warning: This story contains graphic details
Three Regina women have come forward with detailed sexual misconduct allegations against former The Dead South cello player Danny Kenyon.
Kenyon stepped down from the band on Aug. 19 after allegations were posted to the Survivor's Stories Regina Instagram page on July 31, Aug. 15 and Aug. 16. The anonymous publishers have since removed hundreds of posts alleging sexual misconduct over concerns about civil lawsuits.
CBC has spoken to the three women who wrote the anonymous posts and independently verified their identities.
Kenyon has not responded to multiple requests for comment. No one from the band could be reached for comment.
The Dead South are a Juno-award winning Saskatchewan-based bluegrass quartet. In 2014, the band was picked up by a German record label and have been touring overseas ever since.
The first woman who posted on the Instagram page told CBC she matched with Kenyon on Tinder in 2015, when they were both in their mid-twenties and she was attending classes at the University of Regina.
She said they agreed to meet at a local bar the same day.
She said she remembers going back to her apartment and kissing him, but doesn't remember what happened between them after that.
"I think he took advantage of the fact that I was really intoxicated," she said. "I only remembered bits and pieces. I know there is an entire time period that I don't remember."
She said she woke up the next morning to find him in her room, without pants on. She said he was masturbating and asked if she wanted to have sex again.
She said she told him no twice, but that he finished masturbating and ejaculated on her without her consent. She said she also doesn't know if Kenyon had used protection the night before.
"I knew it was wrong and I was hurt and I was confused and I didn't know why he would do that," she said. "I just felt so disrespected."
She said she promptly drove him home to get him out of her house, deleted him off of her Tinder account and never talked to him again.
'It makes me feel disgusted'
The woman said that after the alleged incident, she started to see the band's music videos posted online and its photos in the newspaper, and that since then its star has only risen.
"It makes me feel disgusted. For a long time I blamed myself and I didn't really understand what had happened," she said. "So whenever I would see them I guess I felt that kind of anger and a kind of fear and maybe a bit of shame."
The anonymous post she made was initially reported and taken down by Instagram, but the Survivor's Stories Regina page reposted it on July 31.
Kenyon commented on the post from his private Instagram account.
"Your courage in sharing this is appreciated. Thank you for bringing this to light, and I see now that my actions caused harm. I wish you healing. I am sorry, and I will do better. Also, I'm sorry your original post was taken down - you deserve to have a voice," he wrote.
The woman said that since she's posted her story to Instagram, she has felt a huge weight lift off of her shoulders.
"I knew it wasn't right, but reading people's comments really made me feel like I was a victim and it wasn't my fault," she said. "So it's given me strength for sure."
'He didn't let me stop'
Two more allegations of sexual misconduct against Kenyon were posted on the page since then.
The second woman to post, who shared her story Aug. 15, said she was at her friend's house in 2007 when she was 14 and Kenyon, who was 17 or 18 at the time, was there hanging out with her friend's family member and other guys their age.
She said they were all drinking and she remembers waking up puking in the bathroom with him beside her. She said she felt relieved to not be alone. Then he led her into another room.
She said he coerced her into giving him oral sex and when she tried to stop multiple times he kept pushing her head down and telling her to keep going.
"He didn't let me stop," she said.
She said eventually one of Kenyon's male friends walked in and started yelling at him.
She said that although Kenyon wasn't violent, the alleged incident is a traumatic memory she will never forget.
"I went to go home and I cried about it a lot. It was really weird and confusing. I didn't know how to process it," she said. "Then I tried to tell my friends about it and basically they told me like it was your fault, you were too drunk."
She said that at school the following Monday, a guy in her class approached her and commented that she and Kenyon "hooked up" and she "gave him a blow job."
"It was a really, really shaming experience," she said. "I never wanted to talk about it ever again."
She said it was 13 years later, after the first allegation about Kenyon was posted to the page, that she was finally able to address it with her friends and the people who were there the night it happened. She said it was the first time people really validated that it wasn't right.
After posting on Instagram, she sent Kenyon a Facebook message to tell him it was her. As of the publication of this story, she said Kenyon had not responded to her message.
The message in part reads:
"I can safely say now that I'm a well-adjusted human capable of having a healthy relationship but this encounter and its aftermath really impacted my ability to respect and love myself for several years. It was the first sexual encounter I had with a man beyond kissing. It taught me that I wasn't allowed to vocalize my feelings or discomforts to my partners during and surrounding sex and intimacy. And it taught me not to tell anyone when I was sexually assaulted again. I dealt with these things alone because the situation taught me to be silent.
I don't want you to get cancelled, I don't want your life to end and I don't hate you but I do really hate what you did. My life and experiences have led me to associate accountability and justice with healing. In my life and career, I regularly interact with perpetrators of sexual violence and those interactions have taught me that behaviours like yours often come from a place of pain and trauma. And while I can't assume this is the case with you, I sincerely hope that you do work to heal what you need to so that you don't need to cause harm anymore. What you choose to do with this is up to you but that's what accountability would look like to me."
She reiterated that the goal in sharing her story was not to get him "cancelled."
"I think posting made me realize what I really want is for him to understand what he did to me," she said. "I really hope that he takes it as an opportunity to reflect on his behaviour and move forward in a healthier way that doesn't lead to him harming people and brings him some peace."
A third woman posted on Aug. 16, writing about an alleged incident with Kenyon in 2007 or 2008.
She described being at a party at age 14 or 15. She said Kenyon tricked her into going to see something in one of the bedrooms.
She said the lights were off and he closed the door behind him and blocked it. She said he then grabbed her and backed her into a corner.
"I kept saying 'no way' and just kind of just shoved him off and kind of hit him in the face and he kind of stumbled," she told CBC. "So I left and went back to the kitchen and told my friend, a male who was also friends with that group, and he said, 'That's Danny.'"
She said that comment felt worse than the actual encounter.
She said she was urged to post about what happened to her after seeing the second post about Kenyon.
"It could've easily been me," she said.
She said she wasn't surprised to see the posts about him, but spoke up to support the other women who came forward.
"I just wanted to be able to say 'me too,'" she said.
She and the woman who made the second post both said they had hoped Kenyon changed his behaviour after high school, but said they realized it was an ongoing pattern after seeing the story from 2015.
"Danny doesn't really seem like a bad person or an aggressive person outwardly, but people can behave kind of totally normally and just have this kind of thing in them and if no one's discussing it then it's not going to make anything ever resolved," said the third woman.
Complaints surround song for 6 years
The band's song Banjo Odyssey was released on their 2014 album Good Company. It came under fire that same year, with many people concerned that the song is about rape.
Some of the lyrics include: "Tore up the restraining order, I don't care I'm comin' over; Pulled you out by your hair, If people ask I was never there; We're going faster, And she's saying slow down."
The band addressed the controversy on Facebook in August 2014, saying the song is a satirical, tongue-in-cheek reference to the bluegrass genre and tells a story about two cousins who engage in a relationship.
"We sincerely apologize to anyone who has been hurt or offended by these lyrics, as the last thing we would want to do is offend anyone," the post said.
"Obviously, we do not condone rape or violence, and Banjo Odyssey (like many of our songs) is written as a story, and not as something to be taken literally."
The post was signed by all of the band members at the time, Nate [Hilts], Colton [Crawford], Scott [Pringle], and Danny [Kenyon]. Kenyon is the only one no longer in the band.
The band did not stop playing the song at shows. In a recent statement on its website it wrote, "We are discussing the impact and future of our song Banjo Odyssey."
Sexual assault centre calls on band to stop playing song
The Regina Sexual Assault Centre wrote about that statement, and about Kenyon exiting the band, on Facebook on Aug. 22.
"How many times did people raise issues with these lyrics and the band defended them? NOW that it's personal, they want to be part of change and make room for victims? Say what?" the post said.
Moravia de la O, a counsellor at the centre, said it looks like the band is trying to think critically about its role in perpetuating sexual violence. She said no longer playing the song would be a good starting point.
"The normalization of sexual violence through pop culture, including music and movies, has made it much more difficult for people to come forward and tell their stories, for people to be held accountable. It negatively impacts, influences the myths that exist around sexual violence and consent," said de la O.
"For many, many survivors it could be very triggering to see and hear depictions of sexual violence."
The first woman who shared allegations about Kenyon said the song condones violence against women and that it's not right for people use an artistic expression argument in this case.
"They write songs and sing passionately about committing an act of rape," she said.
"And sadly they have fans that listen to this and seem to think it's OK and it really isn't. I don't think anybody against rape, against rape culture and for women would ever sing about raping their cousin."
Record label, band issue statements
Six Shooter Records, which represents the band, said in a statement posted to its website on Aug. 19 that it is engaged in discussion about Banjo Odyssey, "and our responsibility as a record label with respect to both artistic expression and social responsibility."
"We feel it is important to allow the time for a thoughtful and thorough process before taking action."
The band also released a statement on Aug. 19, saying it "is opposed to, and does not condone, harmful behaviour of any kind."
"We have begun to train our band members and team members on consent, professional conduct, and creating safer spaces for our fans and our team," the band's statement said.
Six Shooter said its first training session on consent was scheduled for Aug. 25 and 26.
It said it invited and encouraged all staff, artists, crew and agents to participate.
"This training is essential, and one of the many steps we will take as a company toward creating safer environments for our community," said the record company in its online statement.
Six Shooter did not return CBC's request for comment.