Kim Fowley’s Estate, Longtime KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer Sued for Sexual Assault of Minor
UPDATED: Kari Krome, a songwriter for the 1970s all-female rock band the Runaways, has filed a lawsuit against the group’s late manager, Kim Fowley, and longtime KROQ DJ and nightclub owner Rodney Bingenheimer, alleging that both of them sexually assaulted when she was a minor. The news was first reported by Rolling Stone.
“Plaintiff, Kari Krome [legal name: Carrie Mitchell] is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, sexual battery, assault, and molestation at the hands of Defendant Rodney Bingenheimer,” the lawsuit, obtained by Variety, reads in part. “When Plaintiff was approximately 13 and 14 and 15 years old, Defendant Rodney Bingenheimer and Defendant Kim Fowley used their roles, status, and power as adults, as well as their connections to and work in the music industry to gain access to manipulate, exploit, and sexually assault Plaintiff in the State of California, County of Los Angeles. As a result of Defendant Rodney Bingenheimer’s and Defendant Kim Fowley’s sexual abuse and assault, Plaintiff has suffered severe emotional, physical and psychological distress, including shame, and guilt, economic loss, economic capacity and emotional loss.”
Fowley, who died in 2015, has been accused of sexual assault in the past — the group’s bassist, Jackie Fox, alleged in a Huffington Post article shortly after his death that he raped her; Krome corroborated Fox’s claim and first detailed her own allegations against him in the same article.
However, the new suit represents the first time she has publicly accused Bingenheimer of sexual assault. “You can come to a conclusion or think that something isn’t right, but if you’re speaking on something too soon, a lot of times you’ll get nothing but blowback and you have to wait until the time is right,” Mitchell told Rolling Stone. “I never shut up about it. Just nobody wanted to hear it. Nobody seemed to care. We’re still looking at these characters through a lens of glamorization of that era and that scene instead of looking at them through a lens of doing things that are criminal.”
Reps for Fowley’s estate and Bingenheimer did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for comment. A rep for Bingenheimer, Bradley Herman, managing director of the SiriusXM radio show “Rodney Bingenheimer in the Underground Garage,” declined specific immediate comment on the complaint but said a more-detailed response will be coming next week.
In his role at KROQ and as owner of the English Disco, Bingenheimer played a major role in the rise of glam rock and, later, punk rock in Los Angeles. However, the Disco was “notorious for allowing underage kids to come inside,” as the suit alleges, and was a popular destination for many rock stars of the era (many of whom in the past admitted having sex with minors). The suit alleges that Bingenheimer, who was 28 at the time, started grooming Mitchell “to believe they were becoming friends and that she could trust him.” In the suit, she claims he sexually assaulted Mitchell at his home one evening after telling her to come into his room to watch television.
The suit also states that Fowley signed Mitchell to a publishing deal on her 14th birthday, and she claims he took credit for numerous songs she’d written for the group, most notably their hit “Cherry Bomb.”
“Especially when you’re young and you may not be happy at home, you’re rebelling against your parents, you have a rich fantasy world. I know I did,” Mitchell continued. “You go to Rodney’s, it was like walking into Oz. I was looking at the posters, the marquee, the people. It was so overwhelming for me, I couldn’t take it all in fast enough. The real side of that was dealing with grown men who had really rampant sexual energy. But I was wearing Wallabees and denim jackets. I was out of place. My motivation was purely creative. I wasn’t interested in men, I was too young.”
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