ORIGINAL STORY: Sydney pop-punk outfit With Confidence have split from their guitarist Luke ‘Rockets’ Thomas (pictured left), after he was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.
In a statement, the remaining three members of With Confidence say Thomas is no longer a member of the band.
“Late last night an allegation came to our attention about our guitarist Luke Rockets,” they say.
“We are passionate about music being a safe space for people of all ages and are extremely disappointed and disgusted. We had absolutely no idea this had happened.
“This sort of abuse of power has been all too prevalent in today’s industry. It is in these circumstances that people need to be completely stripped of that power and held accountable for their actions.”
With Confidence Say they have “endless respect” for the young woman who came forward with the claims against Thomas, which were posted to Facebook by a user named Piper Vidler yesterday.
In her post, Vidler said she made the accusations on behalf of a friend of hers who has chosen to remain anonymous out of fear of “victim-blaming and social media backlash”.
Vidler shared a number of screenshots of messages which were allegedly sent between her friend and Thomas, which allegedly occurred when her friend was underage and Thomas was in his early 20s. He is currently 24.
Vidler accused Thomas of sending sexually explicit messages to her friend, who “never sent any explicit photos, or responded to his advances”.
“He began to ask about her feet in a really undesirable manner, and slowly the conversation acquired a sexual nature,” she wrote.
“He asked her about kinks, and other adult concepts. I’d like to stress that he was aware that my friend was underage since he knew that we could not get into their 18+ shows.”
Vidler says the screenshots she posted to Facebook (below) “are just a tiny portion of these conversations”, and claims there could be other girls who Thomas has spoken to in a similar way.
“He was disgusting and manipulative, he took advantage of a minor knowing that he could get what he wanted and that she would not say anything because she did not want to ruin his career,” she said.
“This is yet another reason why it has taken her so long to speak up, but I am more than glad that she finally is because this sexual predator deserves to be exposed.”
Read Vidler’s statement alongside screenshots of the alleged messages, below.
With Confidence have also apologised to fans in the US, as they will no longer be able to complete the remainder of their US tour. Read their full statement, below.
With Confidence Statement
Late last night an allegation came to our attention about our guitarist Luke Rockets. Luke Rockets is no longer a member of With Confidence.
We are passionate about music being a safe space for people of all ages and are extremely disappointed and disgusted. We had absolutely no idea this had happened.
This sort of abuse of power has been all too prevalent in today’s industry. It is in these circumstances that people need to be completely stripped of that power and held accountable for their actions.
We support and have endless respect for the individual who has come forward and ask that everyone respect their right to privacy.
Unfortunately we will not be able to complete the remainder of our US tour. We apologise but ask for your understanding.
We will continue to do whatever we can to support and empower all those who have supported us.
Jayden, Josh, and Inigo
Piper Vidler Statement (Via Facebook)
In light of the recent events, I feel like I can no longer stay quiet about an experience that has affected someone close to me. Sadly, we still live in a society full of victim-blaming and social media backlash aimed at the people brave enough to speak up about experiences of sexual assault or misconduct. I am speaking for my friend, who has chosen to remain anonymous for these very same reasons. May this be an example to all of you that young girls are still afraid to speak up about these experiences, as the prospect of the hate they’ll receive is just as terrifying as being sexually preyed on.
This friend and I started listening to a band called With Confidence when they were just beginning to play shows. My friend got very into them, specifically their guitarist Luke “Rockets”. She was 14 at the time and he was 22, about to turn 23. She developed a crush on him, just like any other 14 year old would have. In no time, With Confidence became her favourite band, and Luke became her favourite artist. She liked them so much, she made sure to attend every show they played in our city, and even for the 18+ ones we’d wait outside just to meet them because we couldn’t get in to the concert. We met them so many times that they even got to know who we were, and would recognise us occasionally, and we became friends on Facebook.
In April of 2016, after my friend was unable to fly to Sydney for one of their gigs, she messaged Luke to apologise for not making it, and asked how the show was. That’s when they started talking. At first they exchanged casual messages, and the conversation was pretty normal, enough that she began to feel like they were actually becoming friends. It escalated incredibly quickly, and what originally was just innocent compliments suddenly turned into inappropriate comments.
He began to ask about her feet in a really undesirable manner, and slowly the conversation acquired a sexual nature. He asked her about kinks, and other adult concepts. I’d like to stress that he was aware that my friend was underage since he knew that we could not get into their 18+ shows. During many of their conversations, she would be at school with me. We were both in Year 9. At one point he asked about what grade she was in, and she purposely lied and said she was in the grade above, in Year 10, because she was afraid that he’d stop talking to her if he thought she was too young. Either way, Year 10 was still just one year older than we were, which is in the 15/16 year old age range.
At this point he was already 23, and the sexual nature of the conversations had begun to escalate even more. She would never directly say that she was uncomfortable, but in some cases she would not reply and make excuses as to why she hadn’t. I have attached screenshots, which are just a tiny portion of these conversations. For the sake of my friend’s privacy, we have blurred some of her responses out. I would also like to make it very clear that in many of the screenshots, her responses were not what she truly wanted to say, she simply said the things she said so that they could continue to be friends.
I’d like to make it clear, that my friend never sent any explicit photos, or responded to his advances. However, the weight of the influence that he had on her, someone that she admired greatly, was too heavy for her to ever directly say no, even when she felt uncomfortable. Many times me and her would find his comments funny, and respond in comedic ways, only because we were younger and didn’t understand the severity of the situation. Nevertheless, when she was home alone she would often feel very uneasy with the conversation.
Today, she still feels very ashamed of the way she responded to him in some cases, and how that could’ve encouraged him. However, he was aware that she admired him, which made her an easy target, and that is exactly what he took advantage of. These actions of a 23 year old man who knew well that he could take advantage of a 14 year old girl this way are appalling. It got to a point where my friend was so sure that he’d attempt something inappropriate with her in person next time they saw each other, that we sold the tickets we had for their next show and did not end up going.
We are lucky that she was able to stand her ground and never give in to the pressure that he was putting on her. However, that is exactly why we want to speak up about this, because we know that there are many girls who have not been able to do so. We are aware that Luke was talking to at least one other girl who was also underage at the same time as he was talking to my friend, but that is not our story to tell. We want to give a voice to the people who may have experienced something similar to this, to let them know that they are not alone and give them a platform to speak out.
Our main goal here is to get this story out there, especially because many of us are unaware of the things our own idols could have done. It’s sad that so many of these cases go undiscovered, but we are no longer willing to stay quiet about this man. He was disgusting and manipulative, he took advantage of a minor knowing that he could get what he wanted and that she would not say anything because she did not want to ruin his career. This is yet another reason why it has taken her so long to speak up, but I am more than glad that she finally is because this sexual predator deserves to be exposed.