It's turning out to be a very up and down year for Conor Oberst. On the plus side, the Bright Eyes mastermind is gearing up for the release of his new solo album Upside Down Mountain. However, he's also been hit with some very nasty rape allegations. Now the sex assault controversy is reaching a whole new level, as Oberst is now suing the alleged victim for more than $1 million.
As TMZ reports, Oberst has filed a defamation lawsuit against Joanie Faircloth, the once anonymous online commenter who accused the songwriter of rape.
As previously reported, the initial allegations popped up online in December in the comments section of the website xoJane.com, with Faircloth accusing Oberst of raping her 10 years ago when she was 16. Soon the comments began making their away around the internet, though many have since been deleted.
According to the alleged victim, Oberst's brother was her English teacher, and he arranged for her to meet the singer after a show. This led to the alleged rape, where Oberst is accused of taking her virginity.
However, Oberst quickly responded to the growing controversy, issuing a statement in January that denied the allegation. He also vowed to consult with a lawyer — something that he's obviously now done.
As TMZ reports, Oberst insists the story is false and states he has never even met the woman, claiming she is a superfan who gushed over him and Bright Eyes as recently as January 2013.
While the specifics of the lawsuit have yet to surface, Oberst apparently has stated that the incident has since damaged his reputation.
Upside Down Mountain, meanwhile, arrives May 20 through Nonesuch.
UPDATE: Oberst has now issued a statement on his decision to file the lawsuit, explaining that he will donate the any proceeds from the suit to charities benefiting the victims of violence against women. You can read the statement in full below.
Today Conor Oberst filed a libel lawsuit in a New York federal court against Joanie Faircloth, a resident of North Carolina, who falsely accused him of rape in the comments section of the xoJane website in December of 2013 and again, some days later, on her Tumblr page. The suit counters Faircloth's baseless allegations and states that Oberst never had any physical contact with her, either at the concert in Durham, NC at which she claims the attack took place, or at any other time. The only connection between Oberst and Faircloth was one of artist and fan — a fan who has posted laudatory comments about Oberst elsewhere online, including describing attending his band's concert as the 'Best memory ever!'
The lawsuit filed today outlines Faircloth's history of inventing stories and personalities online in order to gain attention. Although her false statements about Oberst have since been deleted from the locations where they were initially posted online, Oberst's suit alleges that her malicious lies spread across the Internet and are archived by multiple blogs. Through his attorneys, Oberst requested that Faircloth recant her false accusations, but she ignored the requests. Oberst has thus been forced to proceed with this libel suit in order to set the record straight and to clear his name.
Oberst is seeking to promote the truth and repair the distress this has brought upon him and his family. Oberst intends to donate the proceeds of this suit to charities benefiting the victims of violence against women.