Original Runaways bassist Jackie Fox has told how late impresario Kim Fowley raped her when she was 16 years old – as two of her bandmates watched.
The assault took place on the night of New Year’s Eve 1975, after a concert in California.
Fox, who’d been force-fed quaaludes, says she was unable to react while the producer first offered her to a roadie, then attacked her himself.
Her account is backed up by Runaways singer Cherie Currie, who saw it take place among a group of other witnesses. But guitarist Joan Jett, who was also there, has refused to discuss the matter.
Guitarist Lita Ford was not present. Fowley died of stomach cancer in January.
Fox tells the Huffington Post of Fowley’s invitation to the roadie: “You don’t know what terror is until you realise something bad is about to happen to you and you can’t move a muscle. I can’t move. I can’t speak. All I can do is look him in the eye and do the best I can do to communicate: ‘Please say no.’
“I don’t know what it looked like from the outside. But I know what was going on inside and it was horror.”
When the roadie refused to become involved, Fowley began his assault, which included playing to the other people in the room. Fox says: “I remember opening my eyes, Kim Fowley was raping me, and there were people watching me.”
Witness Kari Krome, who was 14 at the time and had previously been sexually assaulted by Fowley, says: “It turned into this really disgusting theatre performance that he put on. Jackie was dead drunk – like corpse drunk. She was just laying down on her back, sound asleep, out of it. He had to manually move her body parts into positions that he wanted for himself.”
Fowley with the Runaways in November 1975, just before Fox joined
She continues: “I didn’t know what to do. Go outside, drive, find a pay phone and call the police? I didn’t want to call the police on anyone – but at the same time I knew what was happening was wrong.”
Fox went to band rehearsals days later and says none of her colleagues would discuss the rape. That led her to decide to keep quiet herself. She recalls: “I didn’t know if anybody would have backed me. I knew I would be treated horribly by the police. I was going to be the one that ended up on trial more than Kim. I carried this sense of shame, thinking it was somehow my fault for decades.”
The torment led her to attempt suicide during a Runaways tour of Japan, by cutting a four-inch tear in her arm. Currie helped get her to hospital, after which the bassist left the band.
Her replacement, Victory Tischler-Blue, says the other members made fun of what had happened. “I heard about that nonstop. They would talk about Kim fucking Jackie like a dog. It was kind of a running joke.” She recalls how the band were made to listen to a recording of Fox’s emotional collapse before her suicide attempt, as a pre-show ritual.
Currie says she believes Fowley was manipulating the situation to keep the Runaways at odds with each other: “We didn’t have anybody, a woman or anyone, to keep us talking or for us to be able to discuss things that were bothering us, if we felt that there was cruelty between the bandmates.”
Fox, now 55, went on to study law alongside US president Barack Obama and became a high-level practitioner. She says she’d tried to bury the rape until recently and never planned to go public. But conversations with some witnesses, along with an outpouring of accusations against celebrities and other people in positions of power, changed her mind. “I realised, ‘Oh my God, this is what’s happening on college campuses.’”
She says of other victims: “They have to be making the same value judgements about themselves as I made about me. I know from personal experience how all those things can eat away at you. They can take vibrant young people and turn them into something else.”
She hoped to finally face down Fowley and tell him: “You’re going to die knowing you are not forgiven” – but he refused her attempts to make contact until his death.
Fox adds: “One of the things I’ve tried to do with every bystander is let them know it’s not their fault. I also have to not blame myself for what happened to them. We are all victims of what Kim did.”
Jett, via a representative, has denied witnessing the events as described, adding that Fox “can speak for herself.” Ford’s representative tells Classic Rock that she has no comment to make.