James Euringer, the lead singer and primary songwriter for New York electropunk band Mindless Self Indulgence, has been accused of sexual battery of a minor, according to a lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court on Monday.
In the suit, the woman, whose identity was left anonymous because she was a minor at the time, claims that she had a sexual relationship with Euringer for over two years — from January 1997 to June 1999 — starting when she was 15 years old and Euringer was 27. Euringer, the suit alleges, “groomed and manipulated [her] into believing that his sexually assaultive behavior was not criminal and that by engaging in sexual activity with him Plaintiff was actually helping to protect younger girls from sexual assaults.”
Euringer knew the accuser was a minor, according to the suit, having at one point written her a letter wishing her a happy 15th birthday. “During this time, Euringer acted as and treated Plaintiff as though she was his girlfriend and the two were in a consensual relationship,” says the suit, adding that Euringer manipulated her into thinking that their relationship protected younger minors from him.
Throughout the relationship, Euringer took pictures of her naked and requested that she “act like a small child, and suck her thumb, drool, and pee in her pants,” during sexual acts, according to the suit. Euringer allegedly bought the accuser a fake ID so she could go to concerts with him and drink alcohol. After the girl was convinced they were in a relationship, Euringer also allegedly tried to hide their relationship by telling her not to act affectionately with him while in public. The suit claims the woman has suffered emotional distress since the relationship started.
Over the course of five albums beginning with 1999’s Tight, the group has built their brand, in part, on their shock tactics. As the suit shows, the band put out an advertisement in 1996 searching for a drummer, stating they were looking for someone who didn’t “mind drumming for a band of pedophiles.” The album artwork for Tight features a closeup drawing of what appears to be a young girl’s underwear. The Euringer-written song “Panty Shot” contains lyrics about life having meaning when a 5-year-old spreads her legs, with the song’s narrator noting that they “didn’t touch her” but idealized the action.
On one occasion, the suit alleges, Euringer held up a sign during one of his shows that said “Kisses $1, V.D. Free,” before going into the crowd collecting money and kissing attendees, including young girls. (Euringer did not immediately reply to a request for comment.)
At another show in Michigan in 1999, he was arrested for indecent exposure for exposing his penis onstage, the suit says. “I got arrested at Cobo Arena [Detroit],” Euringer said last year. “Of all the people on that tour, I get busted for whipping out my cock and lighting myself on fire. I spent the weekend in jail, actually. They didn’t even give me a phone call. And I still had my whole pink outfit and dress on in jail. It was fun.”
Beyond the allegations against Euringer, Warner Music Group Corp, WMG’s former parent company Warner Communications LLC and Elektra Entertainment Group (Mindless Self Indulgence’s label until 2002) are all named as defendants alongside the band’s former manager and producer Joseph Galus. The suit accuses Elektra and Galus of negligence and aiding and abetting sexual battery, and that the two knew about and enabled Euringer’s behavior. (Neither Galus nor a rep for Warner immediately replied to requests for comment.)
Elektra allegedly helped develop Mindless Self Indulgence tour T-shirts that featured a photo of the girl while she was still a minor, and an Elektra A&R executive who worked closely with the group saw Euringer frequently touching and kissing the girl during recording sessions and other outings, as did Galus. The suit claims that Galus and Elektra either knew or should have known of Euringer’s alleged behavior.
“With their knowledge, relationship to Euringer, and control over Euringer, his shows, his music, and at times his access to minors, Defendants had the opportunity and ability to stop Euringer’s sexual assaults, and to protect Plaintiff and others, but did not,” the suit reads. “As a result, Plaintiff has suffered humiliation, shame, and horror that she will continue to suffer for the rest of her life.”