- Fresh reports of the superstar DJ behaving inappropriately against women have recently come to light.
Content warning: This story is about sexual assault.
Eulogies have appeared on social media over the past week for the recently deceased dance music veteran Erick Morillo. But many have since come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault by the 49 year-old DJ, who died less than a month after being charged for sexual battery.
Morillo's death on September 1st came just a few days before his scheduled date in court. The DJ had earlier turned himself in to authorities after his DNA was found on a rape kit. Now, more accusations have surfaced against the Subliminal Records founder.
In a Facebook post published on Tuesday, New York artist DJ Empress said, "Erick Morillo used to sexually harass me like crazy when I worked as a buyer at a Record Store in NYC called Satellite when I was 17 years old." She went on to provide graphic details: "He would come up behind me and rub his dick all over my legs & butt when I was facing the wall putting away records, while breathing his hot, wet breath into my ears & [whispering] perverted sexual things he wanted to do to me."
Her account comes after Swedish techno DJ Ida Engberg detailed a negative encounter with Morillo in 2006. Commenting on an Instagram post by Jamie Jones last week, Engberg said: "Once in an after party at his house I sat outside in a sun bed talking to a friend of mine when he approached me from behind, pulled my head back, held my forehead against the sunbed and poured a drink into my mouth against my will. I got upset and asked what that was. He laughed and said 'it's MDMA.' I said, 'Can I please [choose] for myself if I want to do drugs or not?' I got up and left the party. Later I heard from a friend that he had asked all the girls who would not get naked to leave the party. I met him after and he just laughed and said, 'Well, you were not going to fuck me anyway were you?' He also said I wasn't welcome back to his house." Engberg added that she heard "countless... similar stories," noting that Morillo had "the worst reputation."
Both Empress and Engberg's stories fit the definition of sexual assault, as defined by the United States Department of Justice. Their experiences offer a glimpse into the additional challenges that women in electronic music often face over their male peers.
"The owner explained to me that if I wanted to work at the store, that encounters like [Morillo's] was part of how things are with the more successful DJs," Empress stated. Speaking out against a heavyweight DJ like Morillo back in 1998 also meant running the risk "of being cancelled by the male dominated scene," she continued.
Online, many friends of Morillo have publicly mourned his death but didn't acknowledge the rape case.
On Instagram last week, Jamie Jones said: "Erick was not perfect, and I can't judge anyone on things I know very little about." Later, Jones apologised and admitted his earlier comments were insensitive. In a lengthy post that praised Morillo, DJ Sharam said the superstar "was also a troubled soul," adding that "many great geniuses are." It's known that Morillo battled a history of drug addiction—he once told Pete Tong at the 2016 International Music Summit that he nearly lost an arm over his ketamine habit. His official cause of death still remains unknown.
Such reactions have angered many women artists, who say the accusations against Morillo can't be ignored.
"I have been questioning what my outrage has been over the passing of Erick Morillo and how the fact his alleged rape and court case has not been mentioned once as my fellow colleagues share their thoughts on his passing painting a picture of 'a humble guy who was far from perfect' etc etc," DJ Rebekah wrote on Instagram last week.
"Our dance music community should not be brushing the behavior of [Erick] Morillo under the carpet," Engberg posted on Instagram, as reported by Mixmag. "We owe it to all women of our generation and to generations to come. We should not glorify rapists. Sickening to see how star struck our community is. Shame on us."