Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon has denied allegations that he groped a then 24 year-old record store clerk at a Los Angeles fan meet-and-greet on April 10, 1995.
The claim from Shereen Hariri, the Detroit Free Press, includes allegations that Le Bon's hand "brashly and ridiculously moved to my right butt cheek. He started massaging it, then kneading more firmly, then making his way down my butt to my genitals, then rubbing my labia." Hariri, who now works as a therapist, reportedly said in a since-deleted Facebook that post she was "shocked and completely frozen" by the alleged groping and that she was afraid to discuss it for years for fear becoming the "Girl Who Accused Simon Le Bon," worried she'd be "fired, rejected, ignored, even hated."
She continued, "I was being assaulted in the midst that scene. I knew I had a smile still half-pasted on my face, but once the shock started to wear f a bit, my brain went into panic mode. I tried to figure out what to do. Should I dig my nails into some part his body? Should I run to a phone and call the police? Should I scream? Hit him? Time slowed down and my mind raced through consequences." The post also reportedly depicted a scene where Hariri was then posted to work Le Bon's signing table, directly in front the singer, to help keep the line fans moving even as she glared at him, arms folded. "He was looking at me, smirking. I remember thinking how light and glassy his eyes looked," she wrote in the now-deleted post. "Then he stated, with that distinct voice that I had heard on the radio but now have to hear echoing in my bad memories, 'You're Persian, aren't you?' I must have nodded or somehow answered him, because he said, "I thought so. My wife gets that same expression on her face."
In a statement obtained by the Detroit Free Press, Hariri -- who has not filed suit in the incident and is reportedly not seeking a financial settlement -- explained that she was motivated to share her story two decades on in light the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape Donald Trump talking about grabbing women's genitals, wanting Le Bon to own up to the alleged assault.
"I decided that time’s up. I’m not holding this secret anymore. I want everyone to know what this man did to me," Hariri, 47, reportedly said in the statement, referencing the phrase that has become part a wave women (and some men) speaking out about alleged sexual assaults and rapes at the hands powerful figures in movies, music, politics and the dining industry referred to as #MeToo. "I hope he comes clean publicly. I hope he make amends to his wife and daughters. ... I hope his daughters live in a better world than the one he created — and mine does too. I hope none them are grabbed by the p--- by a powerful man just because he can." The statement claims that Hariri told at least one supervisor about the incident and several co-workers, but that it was never ficially written up.
An attorney for Hariri, Sarah Prescott, told the paper that her client recently attempted to sit down and talk to Le Bon about the incident, but that the singer changed his mind after several months negotiations with his lawyer. "At first he was kind , 'Yes, well, maybe later.' It was just not gonna happen. Her view was, 'Let's just let the sunlight in,' " Prescott said, noting that Hariri cannot sue Le Bon because the statute limitations for such cases is two years.
Le Bon, 59, through his attorney, admitted no wrongdoing according to Prescott. The singer did respond to the allegation on the group's Facebook page, denying Hariri's depiction what she claims took place at The Wherehouse music store in Los Angeles that day. "The behavior that Ms Hariri has accused me , would have been just as inappropriate and unacceptable to me then as it is today. But the allegation is simply untrue," he wrote. "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 apologize for my failings. But I cannot apologize for something I did not do."
Le Bon's publicist and longtime assistant, Katy Krassner, wrote in response that she was at the event that day and that she also does not recall the incident in question. "I can tell you that what he is being accused DID NOT happen. Simon was never out my sight that entire day, as each the people on the Duran Duran team were 'assigned' to a band member to help with the record signing," wrote Krassner, who has worked for Le Bon for 23 years. "Apart from anything else, as any fan knows, these kinds events are a whirlwind quick handshakes and photo calls which literally last a matter seconds. The idea that he sat there, right next to his band mates, in front a bunch cameras, reaching behind him to sexually assault someone that day is simply ludicrous.
"I hope everyone who read Shereen’s post considers that there might be another (very different) side to the story and that there is another person involved here -- a kind gentleman that I know very, very well. I have worked in the music industry my whole career and have come across some very unsavory people, and Simon isn’t one them. I am a mother two children, including one daughter, and I take accusations like this not only seriously but to heart. Shame on anyone who decided to believe one person’s erroneous account without knowing all the facts."
A spokesperson for Duran Duran's management company, Magus Entertainment, referred Billboard to Le Bon's statement, noting that many the reports about Le Bon's willingness to meet with Hariri have been inaccurate, saying "we were not the ones to back out a meeting." In an email to Billboard, Hariri's attorney Prescott countered "we tried for many months to set a meeting. He would not agree to a city or a date. On] May 1 I got from his lawyer that due to Simon's schedule it would be 'months' more to find a date. We concluded that he was not genuinely interested and was stalling as #metoo cooled. If that's wrong, he can say now that he'd like to sit down after all."