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Axl Rose Accused of 1989 Sexual Assault in New Lawsuit

A former model has accused Axl Rose of sexually assaulting her in New York over 30 years ago, according to a lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court on Wednesday and obtained by Rolling Stone.

Sheila Kennedy, a former Penthouse model and Pet of the Year in 1983, claimed in the suit that she met the Guns N’ Roses frontman at a nightclub in New York in 1989 at around age 26. The night they met, Kennedy alleged, he violently sexually assaulted her in his hotel room.

Kennedy claimed in the suit that a friend invited Kennedy to a nightclub to try and meet the band. Kennedy spoke with Rose at the club, and he eventually invited her to come back to his hotel with her for a party, she alleged. 

Kennedy’s friend wasn’t invited because Rose allegedly said she was “not hot enough,” per the suit, and Kennedy apologized to the friend and went back to Rose’s hotel with him alongside another model and future MTV host Ricki Rachtman. (Rachtman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.) 

At Rose’s hotel room, according to the suit, Rose plied the guests with cocaine, champagne and other alcohol. After Kennedy went to the bathroom, Rose was allegedly waiting outside the door, and when she exited, Rose “pushed Kennedy against the wall and kissed her.”

“Kennedy found Rose attractive and did not mind this encounter. She was open to sleeping with him if things progressed,” the suit said. However, she says she did not consent to the alleged sexual encounter with Rose that would happen later that evening. (A rep for Rose did not immediately reply to a request for comment.)

Later into the party, when just Rose, Rachtman, the other model and Kennedy were in the room, Rose began to have sex with the other model, the suit alleged. Kennedy claimed she became uncomfortable, alleging that “Rose was aggressive in a way that appeared painful for the model.” Kennedy further claimed that Rose “was encouraging group sex,” but that she wasn’t interested and left the room with Rachtman to go back to Rachtman’s hotel room.. 

After leaving Rose’s room, she heard the sound of glass shattering. “She also heard Rose screaming at the model, allegedly saying: “You’re a fucking whore. Get the fuck out of here.” Upon hearing the noise, Rachtman allegedly told Kennedy that “it’s going to get bad.” 

Kennedy claims that Rose then came down the hallway to Rachtman’s room, saw Kennedy and asked “what the FUCK are you doing back here?” Rose then allegedly pushed Kennedy down to the floor. “While Kennedy was on the ground, Rose grabbed her by the hair and dragged her across the suite back to his bedroom,” the suit said, adding that her knees were bleeding after they scraped the rug. When they got to his room, the suit alleged, Rose threw her on the bed onto her stomach, grabbed pantyhose and tied her hands behind her back.

“At that point, Kennedy, with her hands tied behind her back, was locked in the bedroom, bleeding, and vulnerable with Rose alone while he was in a sexual, volatile rage,” the suit alleged. “Kennedy had just witnessed Rose violently have sex with another woman. He dragged Kennedy to his bedroom like a caveman and acted with uncontrolled fury. Rose had physically stopped her from leaving and locked her in. Kennedy was trapped.” Rose then forcibly penetrated Kennedy’s anus with his penis, the suit alleged. 

“He treated her like property used solely for his sexual pleasure,” the suit said. “He did not use a condom. Kennedy did not consent and felt overpowered. She felt she had no escape or exit and was compelled to acquiesce. She believed Rose would physically attack her, or worse, if she said no or attempted to push him away. She understood that the safest thing to do was to lie in bed and wait for Rose to finish assaulting her.”

The suit claims that Kennedy experienced PTSD-like symptoms after the alleged incident when she hears Rose’s name or Guns N’ Roses’ music. She further claims that she’s suffered from anxiety and depression since the alleged assault and that the trauma compromised her career. The suit listed assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and gender-motivated violence as its causes of action, asking for unspecified damages to be determined by the court. 

Rose himself has been accused of domestic and sexual abuse multiple times in the past. The suit itself describes a “history of abuse” when describing Rose, referencing several other allegations of sexual and domestic violence from past decades. The suit referenced abuse claims from Rose’s former partners Erin Everly and Stephanie Seymour detailed in a 1994 People magazine story. (Everly sued Rose for abuse in Los Angeles civil court that year, later settling the claims out of court.) 

The lawsuit isn’t the first time Kennedy shared these details about her alleged experience with Rose, writing about the allegations in her 2016 autobiography No One’s Pet and further recalling the claims in the 2021 documentary on sexual misconduct in the music industry Look Away. 

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The suit was brought through New York’s Adult Survivors Act, a law that has waived the statute of limitations on sexual misconduct claims for civil suits. The statute will close once again at midnight today. Since the window reopened, women have come forward with allegations against several high profile music industry figures including Steven Tyler, L.A. Reid, former Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow, publishing executive Kenny MacPherson and deceased Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun.

Sheila Kennedy v. W. Axl Rose

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