Jann Wenner, the publishing magnate who founded Rolling Stone in 1967, has been accused of sexual misconduct by a former employee.
In a new Buzzfeed report, Jonathan Wells says that Wenner sexually assaulted him in 1983 and that Wenner offered him a job after the encounter. Wells was 28 and Wenner was 37 at the time of the alleged incident.
Wells claims that the assault occurred during a night of partying at Wenner’s Manhattan apartment, where the two men ended up alone together in the study, drinking and doing cocaine, after hiring a prostitute. Wenner, whom Wells idolized, allegedly began “dangling the idea of a job” at Rolling Stone, where Wells hoped to work.
“I was lying back and he put himself on top of me,” Wells recalls. “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 says he felt defenseless under Wenner, who weighed more than he did, but he eventually pushed Wenner off after the older man passed out.
Despite having only ever dated women, Wells says he had two more consensual sexual encounters with Wenner in the weeks following the alleged assault. It was during this time Wenner offered Wells a job as director of Rolling Stone Press, the the magazine’s book publishing division, which Wells accepted.
Once in his new position, Wells says he began declining his boss’s social invitations, and Wenner eventually backed off.
Wells was fired from the company in 1985 during a restructuring period and “did not perceive it as retaliation at the time.” However, he says he did threaten the magazine’s lawyer to tell the media about the assault and was subsequently asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
Since his firing, Wells says he has seen Wenner three or four times, including last year, when he visited Wenner’s office to discuss a book project.
Wells, who is married to a woman and does not consider himself gay, believes the trauma of his experience with Wenner ultimately derailed his career.
Multiple friends and relatives of Wells have all corroborated his account of the alleged assault, saying he told them about it around the time it occurred.
“I am completely surprised by these allegations, as we have remained friends for almost 35 years since then,” writes Wenner in a statement. “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.”
Wenner was also accused of sexual harassment last month by writer Ben Ryan, who alleged that Wenner offered him career advancement in exchange for sex during a private 2005 meeting. Wenner admitted trying to seduce Ryan but denied any impropriety.
Wenner began publicly identifying as gay in 1995 after leaving his wife for model Matt Nye.