Another accuser has come forward to claim that Rolling Stone co-founder and publisher Jann Wenner sexually assaulted him.
Jonathan Wells claims that Wenner invited him to his Manhattan apartment in February 1983, hoping that he might land a job with the publication. Wells, then 28, grew up idolizing the iconic music magazine.
But the meeting was far from strictly business, he tells BuzzFeed. The two men spent the evening partying and drinking, later ordering a prostitute to Wenner’s residence at his request. After the sex worker left, Wells claims in an interview that the 37-year-old “leapt on him,” pinning him down and forcing him to engage in oral sex.
“I was lying back and he put himself on top of me,” Wells alleges. “He was kissing me, but you know, normal stuff, kissing my chest. I remember him putting his penis in my mouth. I remember him sucking me, going down on me. I remember his hair on my stomach.”
Wells felt “powerless” under Wenner’s weight, BuzzFeed reporter Mary Ann Georgantopoulos writes.
The men would meet up for two more sexual encounters, both of which Wells says were consensual. Although Wells doesn’t identify as gay, he claims he “idolized” the famed publisher, who he considered one of his personal heroes. It wasn’t until much later in his life that the 62-year-old, who is married to a woman, began to regard what happened to him as rape.
Wells would eventually be offered what he once thought he had wanted: a position at Rolling Stone. He claims he was made director of Rolling Stone Press without having to interview for the job or meet any of the staff.
After working for the company for two years, Wells alleges he was abruptly let go when the department was reshuffled. At the time, he says that he didn’t view his firing as “retaliation,” but decades later he views it very differently. Wells continually rebuffed Wenner’s advances during his first six months at Rolling Stone, with the publisher frequently inviting him to dinner.
“I don’t know if I was especially stupid or just I couldn’t understand the whole thing,” Wells tells BuzzFeed.
Wenner has denied the claims, which were supported by the statements of several friends who say Wells told them the story after the incident allegedly took place. The accused says the two men have stayed close in the years since the encounters.
“I am completely surprised by these allegations, as we have remained friends for almost 35 years since then,” Wenner claims in a statement. “I sincerely believed our relationship was totally mutual and consensualabsolutely, and without question. I am saddened to hear this is his memory of that evening, because it is different than mine.”
Wells says he was inspired to come forward following a similar account from journalist Ben Ryan. An editor-at-large for POZ magazine, Ryan previously told BuzzFeed that Wenner propositioned him with sex in exchange for a job offer.
Wenner denies that account, saying he flirted with Ryan and was turned down.
A biography of the Rolling Stone bigwig published earlier this year claims that Wenner’s sexual misconduct has long been an open secret. In Sticky Fingers, author Joe Hagan writes that the publisher “was known for his jovial sexual harassment,” which was also aimed at members of the magazine’s staff.
“He told me he had slept with everyone who had worked for him,” the late journalist Glenn O’Brien told Hagan. O’Brien, a New York bureau chief at the publication for four years, claimed he left after Wenner came onto him.
Author’s note: The writer of this piece was a freelancer at Rolling Stone between 2013 and 2017.
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