Last week, BuzzFeed News reported former Rolling Stone Press employee Jonathan Wells accused Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone, of sexual assault. In the story, Wells detailed an encounter that took place inside Wenner’s Upper West Side home in February 1983, where he met Wenner under the guise of professional networking.
Wells, 28 at the time of the incident, was looking to break into the publishing world and met with Wenner to discuss employment. That didn’t happen: he told BuzzFeed they drank vodka and did cocaine. Later, Wenner allegedly forced himself onto Wells, sexually assaulting him. Though Wells admitted feeling no sexual attraction to men, he saw Wenner a couple more times.
Wells was offered a job as director of Rolling Stone Press in May 1983 and started the job that July. Wells described the position to BuzzFeed: “I knew when I started working there, there was always the question of a continuing sexual relationship.”
He was fired, unexpectedly, in February 1985, when Rolling Stone Press underwent staff changes.
Wenner issued a statement to Buzzfeed News about the accusation saying: “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.”
Late last year BuzzFeed News reported another story of sexual misconduct against Wenner, who was accused by writer Ben Ryan of offering freelance opportunities in the magazine for sex.
A pattern of mixing workplace interactions with sex is one apparent in Joe Hagan’s biography of Wenner, Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine. Through the decades, he cultivated a culture at the magazine where propositioning staff wasn’t out of the question. BuzzFeed notes that Wells came forward with his own story, now, as there’s been an increased conversation around the pervasive culture of sexual assault across many industries—he’s started regarding what happen to him as being rape. “You want to believe your parent is good and fine and unblemished,” he told the publication. “And it’s always a shock when that’s not true. I don’t think it affects how they think of me, but it’s sad to share it.”
Read the full report here.