In our ongoing work to hold abusers accountable, no matter how prominent of a figure they may be, we have launched a massive civil federal lawsuit against the world-renowned artist Sting.
Sting, whose real name is Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, was the lead singer and songwriter of the popular band The Police from 1977 to 1984. But his massive, worldwide success does not excuse sexual assault or protect him from the repercussions.
To protect the name and confidentiality of the accuser for fear of victim shaming, we are using the name Jane Doe for now, however, she will be revealing her name when the time is more appropriate.
The lawsuit states that on May 14, 1979, when Jane Doe was just 15 years old, she was raped by Police frontman Sting.
An avid fan, Jane Doe went to a Police meet and greet event at a Scottsdale, Arizona record store with her parents. Later that day, she attended a concert at a local club where The Police were set to perform.
“At the concert, before The Police performed, Sting and the other members of The Police walked through the audience and visited with fans. It was there that Sting found Jane Doe and put her on his lap during the opening band,” according to a law firm press release.
After The Police performed at the Scottsdale club, Sting, who was close to double the age of his victim, invited Jane Doe to a party with the rest of the band. This once-in-a-lifetime invitation was hard for a teenage Police fan to refuse.
Sting’s behavior at the party became more physical and suggestive, and he soon brought Jane Doe to his nearby hotel room. There he committed statutory rape against the 15-year-old girl.
Looking at the facts of the case, it’s clear that a massively popular musician used his star-power and fame to dazzle a 15-year-old fan, then take advantage of her admiration. This is a dishearteningly common course of action for predators to take when victimizing children.
Adults have an inherent influence over children, and this influence is even stronger if they are a celebrity of Sting’s caliber. At the time of the sexual assault, Sting was the frontman of one of the most popular bands in the world. It’s incredibly difficult for children who are already fans of someone to realize they are being manipulated and exploited by the person they admire until it’s too late.
A traumatic sexual assault like the one Sting committed against Jane Doe can completely derail the rest of the victim’s life, causing extreme and ongoing mental distress. Through her lawyers, Jane Doe has shared a glimpse into the ways Sting’s sexual assault poisoned her chances at a normal life.
Imagine being betrayed by one of the musicians you most admire, to the point where the mere mention of their name makes you ill.
Jane Doe went from being a huge fan of Sting and The Police, a typical teenage kid going to concerts, to experiencing “significant physical PTSD when [she hears] the music of The Police or Sting or see him glorified by the media.” The Police’s discography is so massive and widely popular that one can only imagine how difficult it is to avoid the band altogether.
Sumner’s worldwide fame made grappling with PTSD even more difficult.
There’s no denying that Gordon Sumner is a celebrated figure in not only the music industry, but in society at large. In addition to being one of the best solo artists to come out of a successful band, Sting is a celebrated philanthropist, author, playwright, Grammy and Golden Globe winner, father, and husband. But after what he did to Jane Doe, she sees him as “a thief and a predator.”
In reading Jane Doe’s victim statement, you can see she experienced numerous, long-term repercussions because of this childhood sexual assault.
In her victim statement, Jane Doe shares that she’s “suffered from contemplations of suicide because of the shame and hopelessness” after being raped by Sting in 1979. This is upsetting but not surprising, considering that rape victims are at an increased suicide risk. According to the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center, rape victims are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than non-victims.
Difficulty with Future Relationships
In her victim statement, Jane Doe shares that her sexual assault by Sting was her “first intimate experience,” so her “perception of what a normal relationship was supposed to look and feel like was skewed and twisted.” Research has proven again and again that victims of childhood sexual assault have severe difficulties with future relationships and may struggle to form long-lasting and healthy partnerships.
All of the mental and emotional torment Jane Doe experienced over the years could have been avoided if not for the predatory actions of Gordon Sumner.
One glimmer of hope is that Jane Doe has been attending therapy for many years in order to handle her PTSD.
Therapy is an important part of facing previous trauma, managing symptoms, and working towards a more peaceful life. Many victims of sexual assault have found therapy to be beneficial in their road of healing.
With that being said, regularly attending therapy for decades costs a significant amount of money. As Jane Doe shares in her statement, the “monetary expenses I have committed to maintaining my therapy are staggering.”
This is part of the reason why victims may choose to move forward with getting a settlement. Victims of childhood sexual assault have been robbed of years of innocence, and may have to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in therapy over the years.
If this Sting sexual assault incident occurred in 1979, why is Jane Doe coming out now?
As Jane Doe says in her statement, “by the time I realized how deeply I was affected by the assault and had the courage to speak up, it was too late. It was a very different time and it was not appropriate for a young woman to speak up.”
For a child in the late 1970s, there wasn’t much precedence when it came to speak out against rapists, especially not famous ones. As Jane Doe said, it was a much different time then, and the public discourse around child sexual abuse, consent, and victim-blaming was nowhere near what it is today.
In addition, there are numerous other reasons some victims of sexual assault don’t come forward right away.
- It’s normal for victims to feel shame after being sexually assaulted, since the experience can leave them feeling humiliated and dehumanized. Their dignity has been stolen, and they may blame themselves. Jane Doe states that after being raped by Sting she felt an insurmountable amount of shame.
- Denial and minimization are also a common reason victim don’t come forward. Some victims downplay what happened to them as a defense mechanism to protect their own well-being. They try to convince themselves that the sexual assault wasn’t actually a big deal, and so there is no need to push the issue any further.
- Fear of consequences can deter victims from coming forward, especially for Jane Doe in this Sting sexual assault case. Speaking out against a world-famous musician and band with millions of fans is no effortless task. When victims come forward about their assault at the hands of a famous figure, they are almost always met with ridicule, attacks, and victim-blaming.
- Jane Doe also shares how she experienced feelings of hopelessness after being sexually assaulted by Sting. Victims may feel like there’s no use coming forward, and they shouldn’t even bother to report what happened to them because nothing will come of it.
There are numerous other roadblocks that may prevent victims from seeking justice against their rapist, or delay their speaking out. But when one does work up the bravery to come forward, our team at National Injury Help is there to support them. And by supporting one victim, we’re supporting countless others who see the powerful things that can happen when we team up to stop sex predators.
By moving forward with this sexual assault case against Sting, we’re doing more than just helping this innocent victim. Jane Doe said it best in her statement:
“I believe this lawsuit is bigger than me. I am sharing what happened to me, when I was young and vulnerable, in the hope that it will embolden the voices of other survivors…My hope is to expose and stop my abuser and other abusers from doing this to anyone else and ruining another innocent, young life in the process.”
That’s exactly the mission we have committed our entire careers to: persecuting rapists, putting predators behind bars, getting justice for victims, and preventing future ones.