Sargent House founder Cathy Pellow has stepped down from her position at the label after allegations against her have surfaced online. Henry Kohen of the band Mylets posted a lengthy statement detailing his time living in a residence shared by Sargent House employees. Kohen said he was molested by associate of the label Graeme Flegenheimer, and was ignored and eventually made fun of by Pellow after reporting the incident to her.
"First I'd like to say thank you to the friends, former/current SH artists and employees, and fans who have reached out to show support and share their own experiences," wrote Kohen. "I would like to be transparent here and acknowledge that Cathy has reached out to me privately, expressing curiosity around my previous video.
"It is important to me that there is an understanding that this issue transcends any of my own personal experiences and that, even in the event that any of the following may be lost memories for Cathy, there is an undeniable culture and pattern of behavior that is ingrained in the foundation of Sargent House that needs to be addressed. I would like to speak about two occurrences that I personally went through and then touch on the bigger picture.
"In September 2015 when I was 19 and still living in Sargent House I was molested by venue owner and Sargent House-regular Graeme Flegenheimer while trying to kick him out of the house. I told Cathy about this, about how he had lingered around after a party until everyone left and began asking me extremely inappropriate questions, how he groped me and made passes at me after I refused to get into a bed with him, how he had climbed the front wall of the house to get back inside and searched for me after I locked him out, how he had then proceeded to send me insulting and explicit text messages throughout that night.
"I was not taken seriously, met with essentially a shrug and an awkward laugh, and a few nights later I arrived to the house to find him back over as a dinner guest. Their professional and personal relationship remained intact for long after I had told Cathy.
"This was the impetus for me deciding to move out of Sargent House, a move that would also lead away from my aspirations of having a life centered around music. I had heard Cathy strongly and publicly condemn perpetrators and advocate for victims using the Sargent House platform and the lack of acknowledgement or action thoroughly contributed to my suppression and denial of what had happened to me.
"In October 2013, when I was just 17, at a show in Chicago on my very first North American tour, Cathy took me aside and told me with the utmost gravity to never ever forget that the only reason anyone would ever pay attention or value my music was because of her.
"I truly have never forgotten this! Later this same night, she would walk all over and damage my records and shirts with muddy shoes and eventually go on to call my Mom a cunt in front of the entire tour line-up, my parents, and fans who had stuck around.
"I am embarrassed to talk about either of these events and they certainly are not the extent of my experiences, but I deserve to exorcise them from my head and they are also important in understanding the culture surrounding Sargent House.
"I witnessed routine extreme degradation and verbal abuse of employees and artists, intentional belittling and manipulation leading to rivalries and insecurities within the artist-base, blatant and even proudly misogynistic language surrounding the ‘acquisition' of emotionally-vulnerable female artists, purposeful withholding of financial information except when making vague allusions to how indebted the artists were to her, open disdain for the fan bases of bands, forceful and targeted breaking of artists and employee's personal boundaries, and an all-encompassing process of ‘othering' that instilled a constant feeling of paranoia.
"I have no ambitions to ‘cancel' Cathy, to shut down Sargent House, no feelings of vindictiveness. What I am asking for is for there to be an acknowledgement of past behaviors in order to assure any artists, employees, or fans that this type of systematic treatment is no longer tolerable and that those who have been hurt can get accountability without the fear of having to put themselves on the line legally or financially and without having to revisit existentially embarrassing or hurtful times of their lives.
"Through the label's constructed outward messaging and aesthetic, many people are drawn to join Sargent House whether as artists, employees, or devoted fans and I believe these people all deserve an impression built on good faith when considering pouring themselves into a brand.
"To those of you who could speak alongside me here, I ask that you please please do (providing you are currently legally able to). Though I cannot speak for you, I promise I remember your struggles and pain as well and I know that you carry your experiences in the same way I do.
"I have nothing to promote or gain through this and I am not unhappy with the current state of my life, I am not a disgruntled ex-musician or seeking attention through my grief. I want to especially thank those few adult musicians and employees who took the time to earnestly check in on me as a person when I was still a teenager; seeing past cliques or industry careers and just recognizing a naive young man who probably didn't understand what he was in the middle of.
"At the time I detested your efforts and I understood you to be bitter ex-devotees who had simply failed to adhere to the guidance and genius of Cathy's leadership.
"Thank you all for taking the time to read or listen to this, I feel shame, embarrassment, and loneliness as I finish writing here. It is no accident that I feel these feelings now in the same way that it is no accident that it has taken me close to a decade to speak up about something that follows me every day. It feels treasonous.
"Your last text to me was sent after I came out publicly as queer. You said: ‘Sending love to you Henry. I'm so happy you were able to share your truth today.'
"I do not expect this to be an easy process for you, I hope you will see value reflected in my truth and that others will provide their truths as well.
"I believe that Sargent House truly deserves this, not to be torn down, but to be held to the standard it purports to."
Pellow has since responded to the allegations, apologizing and saying she's closed the management side of the label and "will be stepping away from Sargent House." Pellow's statement was posed to the Sargent House Instagram and reads as follows.
"I have been trying to gather the right words to say in light of a recent video uploaded to social media by an artist I managed named Henry Kohen in which he shared some experiences during his time living at my office / home," wrote Pellow.
"To Henry, I sincerely apologize and had no idea how much my words and actions hurt you. I have sent you a private message that further expresses my regret about the events that impacted you. If you choose to share that message publicly, that is of course your decision to make.
"I also want to apologize to any past employees or artists who have been negatively impacted by my actions. I've been too oblivious and unaware of the harm that my bad behavior had caused, I know that doesn't excuse the facts and I take responsibility for any pain I brought to those around me. I feel ashamed and am truly remorseful.
"I want to do right by those I have let down and I am open and welcoming to anyone who would be willing to have a conversation with me. I see now how offensive I was to a lot of people, but I am human and hopefully deserving of a chance to make amends.
"Sobriety has been really important to me in recent years, especially during and after the pandemic. I do not expect to gain any sympathy from anyone, but I am no longer the person I used to be, and I am striving to become a better person and correct my past mistakes. With that in mind, I have closed the management side and will be stepping away from Sargent House to focus on the things I can do to fix these issues and take care of my own mental health.
"I am the only one that can account for my actions, so I ask that people direct their anger or disappointment towards me and not toward any of the artists associated past or present. I hope fans of the music released through Sargent House can separate my shortcomings from the work done for and by the artists that we all love and cherish, they should not take any blame for this.
"There is a lot of work ahead and I am only beginning this process. I have created a personal Instagram account @cathyp_1956 so that I can continue the conversations without being a distraction to the artists and people that continue to do amazing work at Sargent House."
Artist statements regarding the abuse have also begun to surface. Chelsea Wolfe revealed in an Instagram story that she dropped off the label last summer for her mental health, while Lingua Ignota has issued the following statement also as an Instagram story.
"I have been working very hard to make my life as healthy and happy as possible. A big part of that equation meant ending my relationship with Cathy Pellow, which I did last year. I am focusing on my future and will be going into detail about my experience but I stand in unequivocal support of the artists and employees speaking out. I am grateful to be free and healing."
King Woman also shared Wolfe's statement, adding "I second this. I also left a few years ago."