About a year and a half ago — in January 2011 — black-metal musician and tattoo artist Jef Whitehead was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting his then-girlfriend. The alleged details, as they were initially reported, were pretty gruesome, leading to wild amounts of handwringing and rushes to judgment.
Whitehead — who performs under the alias Wrest, and whose projects include Leviathan and Lurker Of Challice — probably didn’t help his case by releasing an album in November 2011 called True Traitor True Whore (via the venerable Canadian label Profound Lore) with song titles including “Her Circle Is the Noose” and “Every Orifice Yawning Her Price,” but he maintained his innocence, and fellow members of the black-metal scene spoke up on his behalf (including strenuous defenses from Blake Judd and Sanford Parker, both of whom have played alongside Whitehead in Nachtmystium and the supergroup Twilight).
According to a report from the Chicago Reader, the 43-year-old Whitehead initially faced a 34-count indictment — for which “The minimum mandatory sentence is enough that a man of Jef’s age would have died in prison,” per Whitehead’s defense attorney, Joel A. Brodsky. However, the state reportedly dropped 28 of those charges and Whitehead was eventually tried on four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, one count of unlawful restraint, and one count of aggravated domestic battery. Last month, he was found not guilty on all charges except for one of aggravated domestic battery.
Whitehead’s conviction allegedly could have resulted in a penalty of three to seven years in prison; today, though, he was sentenced to two years probation.
According to Profound Lore label owner and operator Chris Bruni, even that is too much.
“He never assaulted her whatsoever and even the domestic he got charged with is false,” Bruni tells Stereogum. “It’s bullshit.”