Sound engineer Chez Cherrie made a blog post on June 29, coming forward with several allegations of misogyny while touring with The Killers in 2009, including a specific event that year that involved an alleged rape from the crew members. Following this post the band made an announcement that they were investigating this sexual misconduct allegation against the touring crew, however the band’s legal team have now announced that they were “unable to find any corroboration” regarding Cherrie’s story.
Cherrie shared screenshots of her emailing her story to SoundGirls in 2015, however at the time her article became available on a WordPress site in 2018, the band was not named. She alleges that during her time with the crew, many would make inappropriate remarks and alleged that they would bring drunken groupies onto the crew’s tour bus. She also alleged that there were special bonus incentives for crews if groupies allegedly gave band members oral sex or allegedly stripped naked for them. One of these accusations also alleges that two women were cajoled into giving a band member oral sex on his birthday.
Cherrie then detailed an alleged incident during the band’s show at the Rave/Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, when there was an extremely intoxicated naked woman in one of the dressing rooms, who Cherrie alleges had sexual contact with some of the men from the touring crew.
Context: me submitting the blog to Soundgirls in 2015, click through to the draft, soundgirl’s response to me before reading the blog & then their response after reading.
Go ask Soundgirls if you need this corroborated. It’s still sitting in their inbox & grammarly history. pic.twitter.com/xiajYwxWkZ
— Chez Cherrie (@ofcherrie) July 29, 2020
“Everyone was swapping stories about this woman and their experiences with her. They talked about her intoxication level, yet had no qualms that she was obviously blacked out, or close to it,” Cherrie alleged. “They made fun of one of the hired guns because he had made out with the woman when he was third in line. They called him a homo because he had made out with her post blowing other guys. I just tried to ignore what was going on.”
The band’s legal team responded to each of the claims made by her post, apologizing for their alleged mistreatment of Cherrie, but also citing reports that allegedly contradict her other misconduct claims. Their statement says that they could not corroborate the bonus incentives for oral sex, nor the allegation regarding oral sex as a birthday reward. They did announce new policies that would make it easier for tour members to report this type of inappropriate behavior however.
Their statement also claims that the woman who had been left drunk and naked in the dressing room was invited by one of the FOH engineers. “Via touring records the Legal Team were able to trace the woman from the Milwaukee show’s guest list who was furnished with ‘after show’ passes from the FOH Engineer and confirm with her that she did not experience, witness or hear about a sexual assault,” their statement reads.
They also allege that many of Cherrie’s claims weren’t experienced first hand. “It was established that this temporary audio technician received much of the information she shared from a second or third hand source. She confirmed that she did not witness the alleged events herself,” they explained.
Cherrie shared her own statement stating that she had “conflicting feelings” about the legal team’s response, but she was grateful they investigated the matter. She also expressed relief that the woman from the dressing room incident was “reportedly fine”
“After reading through the Killers’ press release regarding my blog, I have conflicting feelings,” Cherrie wrote in the statement. “First, I am grateful that they, as an organization, have taken my experience seriously and were moved to internally investigate and potentially lead the industry in a restorative manner so this never happens again.”
Trigger warning. This is my story. I was a tech for the largest sound company in the world working for one of the biggest bands in the world (still).
I’ve never had any sort of justice. I wonder about her all the time.
Please share my story about my time with THE KILLERS. https://t.co/SlELWD6aje
— Chez Cherrie (@ofcherrie) July 28, 2020
Read the legal team’s full statement below:
The Killers’ Legal Team conducted a thorough investigation into all allegations including a lengthy interview with the former temporary crew member who brought them forward. She shared all of her recollections with us and we are very appreciative of her time. The Killers and their Tour Management found these allegations to be heartbreaking and instructed their Legal Team to investigate them vigorously. We are confident in our findings and express our thanks to everyone who spent time giving testimony.
What follows is a summary of the testimony obtained in regards to each allegation and the process by which the Legal Team were able to investigate each one. The Killers and their Tour Management requested that these findings be clearly detailed here in order that their friends, family and fans can be secure in the knowledge that the serious accusations of sexual misconduct and a sexual assault backstage at the Rave in 2009 were discovered to be entirely unfounded.
It was confirmed that the audio technician who made the allegation joined The Killers’ crew in 2009 for a period of three weeks beginning in April. Crew members from that leg of the tour, the band, Tour Management, Production and Band Assistants, third party vendors, short-term contracted audio crew, Venue Staff and Security, Catering Crew, and guests of the touring party from the venue in Milwaukee were contacted for testimony.
It was established that this temporary audio technician received much of the information she shared from a second or third hand source. She confirmed that she did not witness the alleged events herself. It was confirmed that she did not interact with any band members on the tour, nor could she recall ever coming into contact with the Tour Management team or (female) Production and Band Assistant. She was unable to identify who the Tour Management team were at the time but was able to identify her immediate superiors in the Production Crew and some of her crew colleagues.
The Legal Team were able to establish that a former front of house (FOH) Engineer for the band – who was responsible to direct the audio crew and therefore one of her superiors – was a problematic workmate. He was identified by several of the crew in attendance as such and it was confirmed that his treatment of others on the tour was frequently deemed unfair by those who witnessed it. It was the Legal Team’s assessment that a pattern of poor management by this person, and a series of sexist remarks and rude comments, caused the female crew member on the audio team great distress. This type of behavior is considered unacceptable by The Killers and their team. This FOH Engineer was terminated from the touring team in 2013.
It was not verified but assessed as feasible that the purported “bonus” or “incentive” system was discussed in front of the female audio crew member during her time on the tour. She did not hear anything of this purported system from any of the musicians or from Tour Management. She was unable to specify which musician this “bonus” system was provided for, and stated that she did not see any “bonus” system exchange in action during her time with the band. It was asserted to the Legal Team by everyone interviewed, including multiple crew members that the idea of the band paying them extra to “bring back girls” or “have one waiting in the shower” etc. was an in-joke based upon urban legends of tours from an earlier era – i.e. roadie folklore – and not something any of them actually did, were ever asked to do, or ever attempted to do. It was confirmed by the band members themselves that this was not anything any of them had ever done. The allegation of a girl being brought to the tour bus as a “birthday treat” for one of the band members could not be corroborated. None of the band members – or the additional touring musicians who joined them on that run – have birthdays in the time frame the female audio technician was with the tour. Notwithstanding the foregoing, we appreciate that this former (temporary) crew member brought her concerns about these rumors to our attention.
It was confirmed via touring records that the band and additional touring musicians were divided evenly between two buses. No Flowers family members were present on the tour. It could not be corroborated that any band member or touring musician ever spent time on the crew bus. The temporary crew member who made the allegations was unable to identify any specific band member as being present on the crew bus. The band, and additional touring musicians on the road with them at that time, asserted they did not enter the crew bus at any time. None of the attending tour party could recall ever seeing a band member on a crew bus. One of the touring musicians from that time passed away in 2012 but the Legal Team was unable to find any witness to him being present on the crew bus.
It was established that the radio transmissions about a ‘line up’ in ‘Dressing Room A’ was broadcast by the aforementioned FOH Engineer on the audio team’s radio channel only. The rest of the touring party – including band and Tour Management – did not hear this broadcast. This was reported to the Legal Team by crew members who heard it as being FOH engineer’s attempt at a joke or a “hazing” – either directed at members of the audio crew, who were busy loading out outside the venue, or for the entertainment of guests he had invited to the show and were with him at the time of his broadcast.
It could not be corroborated that there was ever a list placed on any door or any ‘line up’ or ‘train’ in any dressing room. In provided statements, staff from the venue in question noted that dressing rooms are not, and have never been, labeled alphabetically, and at that time the dressing rooms were interconnected and without doors. It was also established via all crew and Tour Management that upon arrival in any venue the dressing rooms are uniformly labeled with the band’s names. They do not alphabetize the dressing rooms and they are never referred to alphabetically on radio or otherwise. Venue Security asserted that no one from the venue chased down a departing bus or raised concerns about a drunk, naked girl in the dressing room. Venue Catering asserted that they visited all dressing rooms several times throughout the day and evening in order to replenish drinks, food and clear up. They asserted that at no point did they see or hear of a drunk or naked woman in any dressing room and anything of the sort would have been immediately radioed to all attending Production Crew and Venue Security.
Via touring records the Legal Team were able to trace the woman from the Milwaukee show’s guest list who was furnished with “after show” passes from the FOH Engineer and confirm with her that she did not experience, witness or hear about a sexual assault. The temporary audio technician indicated to us in her interview she strongly believed it was this female guest of the FOH Engineer who had been left “drunk and naked” in a dressing room. The guest in question confirmed that she and her friend were backstage after the show, did not witness any ‘train’ or ‘line up,’ nor were they left behind in the dressing rooms at the venue. She stated that she and the same friend attended 2009 Lollapalooza festival later that year on the band’s production guest list.
The band’s longtime Assistant Tour Manager (2008 – 2019) asserted that she had never heard anything so shocking in relation to touring with the band. She stated she had never felt unsafe or witnessed any behavior that would cause her to question the integrity of the band or crew. Tour Management asserted that as unofficial policy no one has ever knowingly been left behind in a dressing room in distress. The production would not depart a venue without making sure dressing rooms were clear. They asserted that anyone found disorientated or intoxicated would be helped home and they have in the past enlisted local Venue Security to provide care for guests who required any assistance.
All crew and Touring Management asserted that nothing as alleged had ever been witnessed – or rumored – on any of The Killers tours, in Milwaukee in 2009 or at any other time. This particular allegation was deeply disturbing to everyone on the touring team and they unanimously stated that they would have neither ignored nor forgotten an event of this nature.
The Legal Team were unable to find any corroboration whatsoever of a sexual assault at the Milwaukee venue. They request that if there is anyone with corroborating information of an event as described in the allegation to please contact them. Privacy will be respected.
It was ascertained that The Killers very frequently have women working with them in various roles, including on the 2009 tour. Specific to the 2009 tour, some of the touring crew recalled that vulgar language was sometimes used and that crass jokes were made and perpetuated on occasion. They asserted that this behavior could be attributed to a small faction of crew and not the entire production. Multiple current crew members stated that crude language of this type is now extremely rare. Tour Management stated that they have become increasingly vigilant on this front over the years and provided documentation verifying that aggressive or derogatory language by crew results in dismissal. Tour Management and band members recognize that sexual language can be weaponized to make women feel unsafe in a predominantly male environment. They consider continued vigilance on this issue to be their responsibility.
The Killers and their team are committed to a safe and inclusive space for everyone whilst on the road. While many third party vendor crew cycle in and out from tour to tour, most of the band’s current core touring crew have been with them for over a decade and each stated these allegations are completely unrecognizable to their working environment. Band and crew asserted that the behavior attributed to them in these allegations is in direct opposition to their principles and would not be tolerated by anyone on their team. The band and Tour Management expressed great regret that the experience of the temporary female audio technician had not been brought to their attention during the short run she was with them, or indeed at any time in the eleven years since, in order that they may have dealt with these issues immediately and addressed any questions or concerns she had about the band and crew’s conduct.
Due to these allegations, and the very clear belief that this temporary crew member felt she had nowhere to turn with her concerns at the time, The Killers plan to take immediate action for future tours. The band believe there should always be an easy way to report a situation that is concerning to anyone on the road with them, no matter their status or how briefly they are joining for. They expressed regret that the temporary crew member was made to feel unsafe and bullied during her brief time with the band and understand that it is not always feasible for touring crew to raise concerns with their immediate superiors.
The workings of a large scale tour involve many people, including frequently rotating vendor crew who have no contact with Tour Management. Typically there is no formal HR structure on any tour, however large scale, and all crew are managed by their immediate superior or Department Team Leader. All road crew and vendors are given an eTourbook/Itinerary with contact numbers for the entire touring party – including Tour Management, Band Management, Booking Agent and local Promoters. The Killers have directed their team to establish a new system wherein the entire touring party are furnished with an off-site independent HR contact to call to report concerns of any nature, anonymously if they wish. This telephone number will be available to everyone traveling with the band, staff or independent vendor. This number will also be displayed in the Production Office at their shows. All concerns will be dealt with swiftly by band management.
The Killers would like to take this opportunity to assure their fans – and the families of their current crew – that their tours are a safe, familial and professional working environment. They extend their thanks to crew past and present, as well as all other witnesses, for providing swift testimony to their Legal Team.