Music

“I’m An Abuser”: Australian Music Photographer Issues Statement Following #MeToo Allegations

His statement follows an outpouring of #MeToo experiences shared by Brisbane artist Jaguar Jonze.

jaguar jonze photographer allegations photo

A well-known Australian music photographer has released a lengthy statement in response to numerous allegations of sexual misconduct that surfaced over the weekend.

— Content warning: The article discusses allegations of sexual harassment. —

Last Friday, Brisbane artist Jaguar Jonze shared three post-it notes on her social media that detailed her experiences with harassment in the industry — in particular, the alleged actions of an unnamed male photographer. Following her post, a number of people came forward with similar experiences. which Jonze shared across her accounts. By Monday night, more than 70 people had shared their experiences with Jonze, some of which also referenced the same photographer.

Jack Stafford, who operated as re:_stacks, has since confirmed to The Sydney Morning Herald that he is the photographer mentioned in a number of the allegations. Last night, he posted a 3000 word statement on Medium, writing that he is “an abuser” and admitted exposing himself to subjects and initiating uncomfortable and explicit conversations with his clients.

“When the stories first started coming I wanted to dismiss so many of them due to the context they were being portrayed in,” he wrote. “And it appears everyone whos [sic] maybe ever encountered me has a story about something I’ve said or done that was not okay to say or do. I accept that my whole makeup was inappropriate, that my personality was not okay, that even the little things matter, every off joke or statement or moment, every photo, everything, wrong.”

“I didn’t believe I was operating from an evil or dishonest space or especially not a predatory place,” he continued. “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 unpure way then I should 100 percent be listening to that and that they are right.”

Stafford went on to write that he displayed “pure misogyny” in his work, and admits that he “abused his power”. “I have disappointed many people in the music industry and for that I am sorry, I will never try re enter that space,” he wrote. He also admitted that he shared images “that were not mine to share”.

“I abused my power. And have displayed pure misogyny in more than just my professional career but also in my personal life,” he wrote.

He finished by writing he would never work in the industry again, and that he wouldn’t be seeking legal advice for potential defamation proceedings at this time: “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.”

Read the full statement here. Stafford has photographed a number of high-profile artists in the local industry over the years, including Kate Miller-Heidke and Ali Barter — who he recently worked with as part of his coronavirus isolation series.

Jonze’s posts have reignited the discussion of the #MeToo movement in the Australian music industry.

“With these stories women are sharing it’s so obvious how often this happens now, and that sickens me,” Jaguar Jonze, real name Deena Lynch, told the SMH. “The difficult thing is how much fear you’re riddled with when situations like that happen to you. More often than not a lot of women are in positions where they feel their hands are tied, they feel no-one will believe or listen to them. And I was one of those women.”

Jaguar Jonze released her EP Diamonds & Liquid Gold earlier this year.

Photo Credit: Jaguar Jonze/Supplied