Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner has been accused of sexual assault by a former employee with the company. While visiting Wenner’s Manhattan apartment in February 1983, then-28-year-old Jonathan Wells alleges he was pinned down and forced to engage in oral sex, according to reports from BuzzFeed News.
“I was lying back and he put himself on top of me,” Wells said. “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.”
In the early 1980s, Wenner was a notorious partier, described as “unhealthy, bloated from alcohol and cocaine abuse” by author Joe Hagan in his recent biography Sticky Fingers. Wenner’s home on New York’s East 66th Street was “the locus of a rolling party. The door was never locked, and anyone could walk in.”
After the incident, Wenner offered Wells a job at Rolling Stone Press, where he would oversee the company’s book publishing division. Wells, who says that working in publishing and for Rolling Stone had been lifelong dreams of his, said that the job had perhaps been “created specifically for him” in the wake of their encounter. “I never went into the office, never had an interview with anyone there — I certainly don’t recall one,” Wells shared with BuzzFeed News. “I knew when I started working there, there was always the question of a continuing sexual relationship.”
Two years later, in February 1985, Wells was unexpectedly fired from the company, told that Rolling Stone was “rearranging ‘the Press.’” “I did not perceive it as retaliation at the time…I don’t know if I was especially stupid or just couldn’t understand the whole thing,” he continued.
Wenner has since responded to these allegations, telling BuzzFeed News that “he believed the encounter was consensual.” “I am completely surprised by these allegations, as we have remained friends for almost 35 years since then,” Wenner said. “I sincerely believed our relationship was totally mutual and consensual — absolutely, and without question. I am saddened to hear this is his memory of that evening, because it is different than mine.”
This article was originally published on SPIN.