TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains accounts of rape & sexual assault.
NOTE: The post will be updated as the story develops. Update #1: 6/12/20 at 10am ET Update #2: 6/19/20 at 11:30am ET
On June 8, 2020 Jonathan Stiffler, husband to Caitlin Stiffler, took to Twitter to post his account of how he had helped a group of women, who had allegedly been sexually assaulted by Austin Carlile (formerly of Attack Attack and Of Mice And Men) come forward to tell their experiences to Alternative Press magazine. This group of survivors, with Caitlin Stiffler among them, says they sought to be heard and to prevent others from suffering the same fate. They further recounted having to painfully relive their experiences in sharing them with the scene landmark. The story was subsequently killed. In a series of tweets, Stiffler says:
“A few years back, realizing the extent of the damage done, I organized a group of women (MANY) who had been raped or sexually assaulted by @austincarlile over the years to be interviewed by @AltPress. I knew him personally, I worked in the scene & I married one of his victims.
These women sat & told @AltPress in gruesome detail their accounts of rape at his hands. There’s so many victims. I sat in on a few of these conversations & I know they were told about the assaults by the women themselves. Multiple women. I still have the messages between us all.
After months of interviewing victims and putting together the story, right before it was going to run – @AltPress killed it because they were open to being sued by Austin and his lawyers. This was devastating. So many recounted their worst memories and for what?
Today, I saw his article in @AltPress. I don’t even have words. I’m shocked and disgusted that they would give a man that they know is a serial rapist that opportunity? Them killing the story was bad enough, but to let him espouse his “faith” on their platform was heinous.
So, @AltPress owes us answers. Hell, they don’t owe us answers – they owe that group of women answers as to why they did this. Why they gave this truly disgusting excuse for a person a platform for his “faith.” I never thought I’d see this. I’m sick. They knew what he is.”
According to a claim made by AltPress on their website on June 10, 2020, titled A MESSAGE TO OUR READERS AND AN APOLOGY TO THE SURVIVORS, there was an obligation for “due diligence”:
“We would also like to tell our readers that we are not protecting anybody from legal repercussions. What we are following is the obligation of journalistic due diligence, ethics and integrity. Social media allows us to react quickly and impulsively with great conviction. What it doesn’t do is provide context or the full story.
The Austin Carlile story was never kept “under wraps.” It was not published because we could not check all the boxes we, as journalists, must check. During the period that the allegations surfaced and an investigation began, accusations and scenarios came to light. From the information that we have been able to review, these claims were not verifiable by sources or through official legal documentation (formal complaints, police reports, witnesses, etc).”
Apparently, that same due diligence wasn’t required when a similar story, taking the opposite side, was published about Jonny Craig in January 2020. According to the article and a previous one posted on July 19, 2015, Craig was accused of rape by multiple women in incidents spanning from 2015 through to 2017—including being voted off Warped Tour. In the January 2020 article, Craig was given a platform to call his accusers “F–ing liars”.
The issues behind the killed story reemerged when AltPress posted a story about Austin Carlile finding Jesus [the story has since been removed from AP but one containing the same source material can be found here]. Stiffler expressed his incredulity that the publication could have heard the experiences of fiftteen sexual assault survivors and still do nothing; yet years later continue to post about Carlile in a story that appears to be redemptive. According to the women interviewed for the scrapped AltPress piece, they had hoped they would finally be heard, and that their accounts would prevent others from suffering by exposing a long time predator.
Prior to the “the message to their readers” but immediately following the backlash, AltPress tweeted a vow to make sure the women will finally be heard:
“For legal purposes regarding the Austin Carlile accusations, the story couldn’t run as it was told. As a female-led, lgbtq+ editorial staff, we’re going to reopen this & find the answers you’re looking for. We do not condone any of the accusations & this story WILL be heard.”
The lack of apology and the inclusion of the “As a female-led, lgbtq+ editorial staff” seemed odd to many who followed the story but, as noted, a full apology came two days later. It is unclear whether Stiffler would have spoken up on behalf of his wife and the other women had their story been scrapped without AltPress continuing to show Carlile in a positive light.
Since Stiffler’s initial statement on the 8th, he tweeted on June 10th that eleven more women have reached out to him and his wife. He says some are willing to speak publicly. One woman spoke up on her own social account. She alleges that Carlile raped her when she was 17 at a church where one of his shows took place.
I’m ready to speak out after seeing this and being disgusted with @AltPress . @austincarlile raped me when I was 17 at a church at one of his shows. This is my first time talking about it. I thought I was alone in this but I’m not and that is even scarier to think about. https://t.co/eSMLsAcReJ
“I’m ready to speak out after seeing this and being disgusted with @AltPress. @austincarlile raped me when I was 17 at a church at one of his shows. This is my first time talking about it. I thought I was alone in this but I’m not and that is even scarier to think about.”
idobi will continue to monitor this story and post any updates as it develops.
UPDATE 6/12/20 at 10am ET:
As reported by theprp.com, Of Mice & Men have released a statement addressing the allegations against their ex-frontman:
“Yesterday we heard for the first time of an alleged article that was written, and apparently subsequently shelved, regarding a former member of our band.
This individual has not been a member of Of Mice & Men for almost four years and neither the band, nor the team around us, has had any part in suppressing any such article.
We absolutely condemn sexual violence and harrasment in any form.
–Aaron, Alan, Tino, Phil”
The band’s guitarist has also taken to Twitter to address the situation:
“Absolutely disgusted and heartbroken. While I was indeed aware there was a level of promiscuity going on I want to make it perfectly clear I have never witnessed nor knowingly stood by during any instances of any alleged sexual assult [sic] regarding a former bandmate.
I am speaking out now because I’m extremely disgusted with myself for not realizing this behavior sooner. The info was out there and I didn’t do the research. I had always taken his word on things and now I’m realizing how naive I was to have done that.”
UPDATE 6/19/20 at 11:30am ET:
Yesterday, Thursday, June 18th, Austin Carlile released a statement decrying his innocence in the above allegations on his Instagram. The statement is reminiscent of those made by Front Porch Step and Kevin Spacey. It seems to use a combination of intoxication and accusation, in addition to his wife’s personal traumas and pregnancy as some form of counter argument. Yet the statement does not address those allegations with any specificity. Furthermore, there is no examination of any behavior on his part that would’ve led twenty-six women to come forward with accounts, nor is there any expression of concern for them.
You can read his statement in full below:
“In my younger years, I absolutely was not the best person, but I have never physically abused, preyed upon, forced myself upon, or drugged any woman. These accusations are false and defamatory.
I am not a perfect person: I smoked marijuana daily, drank often, got into fights and acted like a jerk more times than I can count. I did things and acted in ways that I am not proud of, but never have I violated anyone. These ‘accusations’ being thrown around on social media, in our current ‘cancel culture’ climate, are extremely heinous and completely without merit.
My wife is a molestation and rape survivor, and I have personally seen the deep, long-standing pain that she battles with every day. I have spent years surrendering my flesh over to God, allowing Him to constantly improve who I am as a man, husband, and father. During this past week I have even had the joy of seeing the heartbeat of my new child for the very first time. Today, I am focused on supporting my pregnant wife, our daughter, this new blessing in our lives, my health, my wife’s health, and striving to be a better person every day.
These accusations have been investigated by the appropriate authorities as well as independent journalists and were determined to be unfounded. I apologize to the Marfan Foundation, I Am Second, my former bandmates and any of our dedicated fans who have been unjustly brought into this controversy and wish them all nothing but the best.
All women deserve to feel safe, supported, and heard, but these unjust attacks upon my family and accusations against me, are decades old claims that are unfounded.”