Musician Conor Oberst explains the devastating effects of false rape accusation
Conor Oberst has opened up about how the devastating effect of being falsely accused of raping a woman has impacted his life.
Oberst was hit by the claims late in 2013, a woman reporting him for an alleged rape after one of his gigs while playing with his band Bright Eyes.
The woman, who initially made the accusation in the comments section of a personal essay posted on the now defunct women’s site xoJane. The claims suggested that Oberst had raped the 16-year-old ten years prior. “Conor definitely took advantage of my teenage crush on him. At first, I was flattered when he was playing with my hair and had his hand on my leg. It was like my dream come true at that point,” read the comment. “But then he clearly wanted to go further and I made it very clear and told him I was a virgin and wasn’t prepared to change that right then but he didn’t stop.”
However, as the finer details of the story started to unravel, the woman retracted her comments and issued a full statement to apologise – explaining the claims she made were 100% wrong. That said, the apology came on Jul 14 2014 – a full seventh months after the headlines were created.
Now, speaking to Noisey in an in-depth interview, the 37-year-old singer-songwriter describes the impact of being falsely accused as devastating as “getting in a car crash”. “When something like that — something random and terrible — happens to you, it’s like…2 or getting struck by f–king lightning,” he explained. “I don’t feel like there’s ever complete closure to something like that in the sense that you carry the psychological things with you.”
“I’m not violent towards anyone. Nothing like that would be a part of my character,” says Oberst. “And for a second, to have the whole world think that was true about me just did a number on my psyche.”
“I don’t ever want to minimise how much that happens to women all the f—ing time,” he says. “They say one in four women will experience some kind of sexual assault in their life which is f—ing insane and heartbreaking. So as painful and surreal and f—ed up as my situation was, I don’t ever want to use this as an example to justify anything.”