Dance Gavin Dance’s Tilian Pearson Responds to Sexual Assault Allegations
UPDATE (June 3, 2022): A second response from Dance Gavin Dance singer Tilian Pearson, wherein he issued an apology to the Reddit user who first levied accusations against him, has been shared at the bottom of the page. A Dropbox folder initially inaccessible when this story was first reported now displays publicly available screenshots between him and the accuser.
Subsequently, Dance Gavin Dance released a collective statement revealing Pearson will be "stepping away from the band in order to seek professional help." See that statement down below the original story.
Dance Gavin Dance singer Tilian Pearson has released a statement in response to multiple allegations of sexual assault levied against him on Reddit and Twitter.
CONTENT WARNING: The following contains descriptions of alleged events that some may find triggering or offensive.
On June 1, a Reddit user posted a 6,000-word-plus recollection of her recent interactions with Pearson around the time Dance Gavin Dance played at their own SwanFest event on April 23 in Sacramento, California. In these recollections, the woman claims she first got in touch with Pearson through what she described as "an extremely thirsty message" she sent to the singer on Instagram while "definitely under the influence of something." The message is said to have been sent "long ago" and that Pearson's eventual response was "a little weird."
The two are said to have exchanged phone numbers with an agreement to meet up the Thursday before SwanFest (which was on Saturday) with the understanding that their outing was deemed a "date."
She admits that both her and Pearson became intoxicated under the influence of alcohol, which was when the two headed to the singer's place of residence. Pearson, she says, was vacillating between states of sorrow (Dance Gavin Dance bassist Tim Feerick died unexpectedly on April 13) and outrage when he perceived that she may potentially leave him for the night.
"I knew he was pretty drunk and going through an extremely stressful time, so I helped him through it, and I was genuinely happy to do so. I was comfortable enough now to finish what I started, but at one point this man had decided to straight up slap me across the face. Obviously, it was in an attempt to be ~sexy~ but it ended up REALLY hurting. I voiced this like, “Hey, uh. That’s cool and all but could you ask next time, and maybe not do it as hard?” He heard me, hesitated for a second, and then did it again. I mean. Hard enough to throw my hearing out of whack and have me black out for a few seconds - it wasn’t cool," she recollects.
After the conclusion of SwanFest on April 23, the two are said to have remained in communication with one another and that Pearson, allegedly intoxicated, urged her to meet up with him at an AirBNB. While attempting to set personal boundaries, the woman alleges Pearson took offense to these defined parameters during what (based on inferences in the post) appear to be sexual acts.
"He wouldn’t say anything, just grab me and put me back on. It physically hurt. It wasn’t okay, and I voiced that it wasn’t, but he never cared to listen. After all that, I didn’t reeeeally [sic] want to stay the night with him, but he insisted. He gets into this weird 'snuggling' position and I … legitimately could not move. I was starting to get a little freaked out and tried to tell him I should leave, but again. He wouldn’t let me. He kept insisting I had to stay the night with him, and he wouldn't let me go," the post continues.
In successive days, a similar cycle is said to have continued, with Pearson disregarding personal boundaries and other directives established by the woman in the post.
"I tried SO HARD to make excuses for him, to the point of blaming myself for a lot of it. & I know everyone reading this is probably like 'why would you do that' — I think we’re all guilty of running back to people that are bad for us. It’s hard to shake, especially when you care so much about them," she later says after recollecting other instances regarding Pearson and perceived emotional trauma he had expressed.
Read the entire Reddit post here.
In his Reddit response (read the full statement below), Pearson denies any wrongdoing. He admits that during that time of the alleged encounter he was "very vulnerable" but that "every sexual act was purely consensual."
Following Pearson's Reddit post, another series of allegations emerged on Twitter on June 1 (all posts can be seen toward the bottom of this page). Alongside claims that echo the notion made on Reddit that Pearson discounted consent for certain sexual interactions, are screenshots of direct message conversations (from mid to late May) between the accuser and the Dance Gavin Dance singer.
She alleges she struggled to resist Pearson's sexual advances after being mocked for her rule of not having sexual intercourse on a first date and rather than continue to fight it and "have a high likelihood of getting raped" she elected to "act like it's my own decision to gain autonomy over the situation."
"Was it enjoyable? Absolutely not. I numbed out. I was so scared what would've happened if I fought back more," the allegation continues.
The screenshots of the direct message conversations (on the dating app Hinge) show that after the forced/coerced sexual encounter, she messaged Pearson and confronted the situation while expressing discontent with his actions. These messages allegedly were not returned by Pearson.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, resources are available for help. Visit the RAINN website (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) or dial 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673).
Statement From Tilian Pearson — June 1, 2022
This morning I was made aware of allegations from someone regarding a brief relationship surrounding the weekend of Swanfest. Admittedly, this was a time when I was very vulnerable, but I can assure you that every sexual act was purely consensual. Since then, she has reached out to me multiple times wanting to see me again. We met again later in Cleveland on tour, and I decided to end things the following day. It was an amicable split, so this story coming out is extremely surprising.
I have text threads saved that paint a picture of the nature of our brief relationship, but I would prefer not to have to air that out.
It pains me a bit because I thought there was a general lightheartedness and sweetness that wasn’t mentioned in her version.
I take the subject of sexual assault seriously, and I want to firmly reiterate that there was no moment of anything happening that was not consensual. I understand that in a new sexual relationship, there is a period of figuring each other’s preferences out, but there is not a doubt our physical contact ever crossed boundaries into anything resembling assault.
My general state of mind surrounding the weekend was filled with grief, and I was leaning on alcohol as a crutch to get me through it. After Swanfest, I did the tour sober to properly grieve and got a lot of support from the band and friends.
Although her story saddens me to read, I won’t express any ill will toward her.
I hope this clears things up, and thank you for listening.
-EDIT- Here are screenshots of our entire text conversation, minus photos she sent to me.
[Editor's note: the link to the DropBox folder was empty as of 8:30AM ET on June 2, 2022. It is now publicly available.]
Tilian Pearson Issues Apology to Reddit User SpookyPooky8
I want to start by saying I’m truly sorry for what you have gone through. When I initially read the detailed account of the night from your perspective, I was stunned. To me, it was a consensual experience, both times when we were intimate. But I will not deny you of your truth and recognize that it has caused you a lot of emotional stress. I sincerely apologize for that.
From my perspective, we communicated openly about how we wanted the night to go and talked in detail about our intentions and desires as they developed. I wasn’t fully aware of your emotional connection to the band and how that might have impacted the dynamic. I was, therefore, very confused when I received your text the next night, and after speaking with a friend, I thought it would be best not to respond as not to aggravate the situation. I realize that this might have hurt you even further, and I apologize. I am much more sensitive to how it must have made you feel neglected when you needed clarification and closure.
I understand my responsibility around consent as a man and am sorry that caused you to feel anything but respected and your boundaries honored. I appreciate the strength it probably took you to come forward with this account. I hold myself fully accountable for causing you this emotional pain. I will be entering an intensive therapy program to address this issue head on to become the healthiest, most responsible version of me, doing the work necessary to ensure this never happens again.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.