Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon has denied a fan’s claim that he sexually assaulted her at a meet-and-greet in the mid-1990s, claiming the allegation is “simply untrue.”
In a now-removed Facebook post, Shereen Hariri said the incident occurred when the band visited a record store in Los Angeles where she worked in 1995.
According to Hariri, the British alternative-rock outfit was posing for photographs with staff and fans when the singer grabbed her “butt cheek” and started “making his way down my butt to my genitals”.
She continued, “I was shocked and completely frozen,” adding she was “afraid of the consequences” of speaking up about the incident. “If I made a scene, I’d be in the press: The ‘Girl Who Accused Simon Le Bon’. I’d probably be fired, rejected, ignored, even hated,” her post continued.
Hariri, now 47 and working as a therapist, says she had a change of heart after the leaking of Donald Trump’s infamous “grab them by the pussy” recording and the gathering momentum of the Time’s Up and Me Too movements.
The woman simply wants an apology and has not filed a lawsuit, her legals tell the Detroit Free Press, which broke the story. Hariri couldn’t sue if she wanted to, they add, because the statute of limitations for such cases is two years.
Le Bon and his team, however, reject Hariri’s depiction of events. “The behaviour that Ms Hariri has accused me of, would have been just as inappropriate and unacceptable to me then as it is today. But the allegation is simply untrue,” writes Le Bon in a message posted on the official Duran Duran Facebook pages.
“When Ms Hariri first contacted me about her claim months ago, I proposed meeting with her in person so I could set the record straight. Instead, she has decided to pursue this publicly. I have always been one who can admit to my mistakes and apologise for my failings. But I cannot apologise for something I did not do.”
Duran Duran’s publicist and assistant Katy Krassner weighed in with her own account.
“I was also at the in-store event in 1995,” she wrote below the original post, “and I can tell you that what he is being accused of DID NOT happen. Simon was never out of my sight that entire day, as each of the people on the Duran Duran team were ‘assigned’ to a band member to help with the record signing.”
She continued, “The idea that he sat there, right next to his band mates, in front of a bunch of cameras, reaching behind him to sexually assault someone that day is simply ludicrous.”
A lawyer for Hariri, Sarah Prescott, told the Detroit Free Press that her client had attempted to secure a face-to-face, but that the singer changed his mind. “We were within a hair’s breath to do a sit-down with him,” Prescott said. “At first he was kind of, ‘Yes, well, maybe later.’ It was just not gonna happen. Her view was, ‘Let’s just let the sunlight in.’ ”
A spokesperson for the award-winning band’s New York-based management company, Magus Entertainment, referred to Le Bon’s statement and told Billboard “we were not the ones to back out of a meeting.”
On Thursday, after the story went viral, Hariri spoke with the Detroit news title about Le Bon’s version of events. “I think it’s unfortunate that he is taking this opportunity to make himself look good … and spinning it the way that he is,” she said, explaining that the star’s refusal to meet with her was part of the reason to go public.
“I needed to have some closure.”