Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner is being accused of sexually assaulting a man more than 40 years ago and then proceeding to offer him a job at Rolling Stone’s now-defunct book publishing division.
Jonathan Wells recalled the encounter to BuzzFeed News where he said he met Wenner through mutual friends and was at his apartment in February 1983. He claims he was sexually assaulted after a night of drinking and doing cocaine.
“I was lying back and he put himself on top of me,” Wells said, explaining that the two were naked because Wenner had just called for a prostitute.
“He was kissing me, but you know, normal stuff, kissing my chest. I remember him putting his penis in my mouth. I remember him sucking me, going down on me. I remember his hair on my stomach.”
Wells, who was 28 at the time, said the incident occurred after he opened up to Wenner, then 37, about how his father thought he was gay, though he is not. It was also several years before Wenner publicly came out as gay in 1994.
“I got my clothes and just tore out of there and ran home and showered,” Wells said. “I was terrified he was going to catch me.”
Wenner told BuzzFeed News that his recollection of that evening was much different.
“I am completely surprised by these allegations, as we have remained friends for almost 35 years since then,” Wenner said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “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.”
Wells said that after that night, he had consensual sex with Wenner on two separate occasions, thinking that maybe Wenner and his father were right: maybe he was gay, BuzzFeed News reported.
“Then I realized, ‘what are you doing?’ — I woke up,” Wells said. “I was never attracted to a man in my life.”
In the following weeks, Wenner discussed the opportunity for Wells to work at the magazine, which was always his greatest dream. He was eventually offered a job as director of Rolling Stone Press, the book publishing division.
“When I started working there, Jann wasn’t too interested in what I did,” Wells said, recalling it was in 1983. “I knew when I started working there, there was always the question of a continuing sexual relationship.”
Wenner would ask him to dinner and to hang out, but Wells started making excuses and saying he was busy until Wenner eventually backed off.
Then in 1985, he was fired and told Rolling Stone was rearranging the division. Though he did not perceive it as being retaliation at the time, he told BuzzFeed News that maybe he was naive.
Following his ousting, Wells pursued a project he pitched to Wenner — a book on Liberace’s life.
He ended up selling the idea to Harper & Row — but Wenner and Rolilng Stone fired back with a threat to sue over breach of contract, Wells’ lawyer at the time told BuzzFeed News.
Wells reportedly informed Rolling Stone’s lawyer that he would go to the press with the sexual assault story if they didn’t accept his $ 30,000 offer to settle.
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“As I remember it, within the hour I got a call saying it was accepted and was asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement,” he told BuzzFeed.
Well’s lawyer at the time did not recall the settlement being for money, but did recall the magazine deciding not to pursue once Wells mentioned he would go to the press.
Wells met his current wife around the time of the firing in 1985.
“He was a much more confident person when he was working there,” Wells’ wife Jane recalled. “He was pretty confident and happy and it was all cool and fun when I started dating him [in 1985]. Immediately when he got fired and sued things got very heavy for him.”
Wenner was previously accused by a Rolling Stone writer of harassment back in November.
Ben Ryan told BuzzFeed News that he refused Wenner’s advances and was offered a 25-story contract in exchange for sex during a 2005 meeting at his townhouse.
He claimed Wenner made him a drink and joined him on the couch before quickly coming onto him.
“I had Jann Wenner’s tongue in my mouth,” Ryan, who was 27 at the time, said. “I went along for a second, but then said something to the effect of, ‘Oh please, I’m not that kind of girl.’ “