Australian Music Photographer Responds Following Numerous Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Content warning: This article discusses sexual misconduct

A prominent Australian music photographer has released a statement following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, which surfaced on the weekend following a post from local artist Jaguar Jonze.

She shared her experiences and stood in solidarity with over 45 others who revealed that they, too, had been sexually harassed by the same photographer.

“It is sad that in my time in the industry, I’ve come across many predators who still abuse their place of power or profile and manipulate the trust people, especially young female musicians, have given to them,” wrote Jonze – real name Deena Lynch.

“The last few days, I’ve been hearing so many stories about a particular male photographer who works in the industry.

“When I was sexually assaulted last year by two producers, I felt alone, ashamed and didn’t know what to do, or where to go. I am just writing this today, that if you have been affected by a similar story and need a safe space to land in this sometimes terrifying industry – please reach out to me.

“I don’t want this pattern to continue and for it to happen to anyone else. Stay safe and exert your boundaries.”

The post about the then-unnamed photographer prompted dozens more women to come forward and share their own stories with Jonze.

Now, the photographer in question has identified himself as Jack Stafford, known under the monicker re:_stacks, who has photographed a number of high-profile local artists over the years, including Kate Miller-Heidke and Ali Barter.

After outing himself to The Sydney Morning Herald as the man referred to in many of the allegations, Stafford penned a 3,000-word statement on Medium, admitting to being “an abuser”, exposing himself to clients, sharing nudes without permission and other acts of misconduct.

“I didn’t believe I was operating from an evil or dishonest space or especially not a predatory place,” he wrote.

“I was telling myself I am a good person. I wasn’t and i am not. I would say I’ve made mistakes, and I wasn’t to know. While there may be some element of truth to that in a very minimal way, I now have come to realise that if so many people believe I am capable of either consciously or unconsciously manipulating a situation to suit me and serve in an impure [sic] way then I should 100% be listening to that and that they are right.”

He continued: “It wasn’t up to the other person to stop me from talking about sex, or my penis. Or to have them stop me from showing them my penis in any way shape or form. It was on me and so is the discomfort I caused. There isn’t blurry lines either in professional settings and or everyday life, there are clearly marked ones that I took it upon myself to blur with a complete disregard of the consequence or comfort of the other person, to those people who are victims I am sorry.”

Stafford then went on to admit that he “abused his power” and “displayed pure misogyny in more than just my professional career but also in my personal life, with conversations and other actions to people who tried and failed to stop me”.

“This wasn’t their fault,” he added.

Stafford then wrapped by pledging to never work in the industry again, and revealing that he wouldn’t be pursuing defamation proceedings against any of his accusers either.

“While I’m sure with some shifty manipulative bullshit lawyer I could claim defamation in some of these instances, I absolutely will not go down that path if I don’t have to. I want people to know that,” he said.

You can read his full statement here.

If you need assistance, 1800 RESPECT – the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service — can be reached on 1800 737 732.

For help or information regarding mental health, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

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