Sargent House Owner “Stepping Away” Following Artist’s Abuse Allegations
Cathy Pellow, the owner of LA hard-rock label and management company Sargent House, is “stepping away from” her company and closing its management side after Henry Kohen of Mylets made a series of detailed allegations around the venue’s culture. He also accuses Pellow herself of misogyny and verbal, emotional, and financial abuse, among other things.
In his video, Kohen accuses “venue owner and Sargent House regular” Graeme Flegenheimer of molesting him in 2015 when he was 19 and “still living at Sargent House.” Upon telling Pellow about the incident, Kohen says “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.”
He adds: “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.”
Kohen’s full statement is below:
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. 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.
In her statement, Pellow apologizes to Kohen and “any past employees or artists who have been negatively impacted by my actions.” She adds: “I’ve been too oblivious and unaware of the harm that my behavior has 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.”
Artists like Lingua Ignota, Chelsea Wolfe, and King Woman have all publicly cut ties with Pellow, noting via Instagram story that their severing ties happened prior to Kohen’s video, which was posted about five days ago.
Meanwhile, Brian Cook, who plays bass in the bands Russian Circles and Sumac, defended Pellow on Twitter, writing, “Cathy can be blunt and uncouth, but I’ve never witnessed anything warranting public outrage. Maybe I’m just lucky. Conversely, I’ve seen her routinely bail people out of bad situations. She’s housed people, paid medical bills, co-signed mortgages, talked people off of ledges.” He added in a lengthy thread, “I applaud people for being angry given the information they have at hand. But if I don’t know what’s actually going on, then consider that maybe you don’t have the full picture either. And I’m not casting stones until I know who I can actually trust in this mess.”