A new DJ Mag report outlines accusation of sexual assault against pioneering Detroit DJ Derrick May. Over the summer, rumors swirled about sexual assault allegations against May online, causing some events like Paris Electronic Week and FAC51 The Haçienda's Easter weekend 2021 gig in London to drop him from their lineups. Now the new report gives more detail on sexual assault allegations by four women going back decades.
Content warning: This article contains information relating to sexual assault.
The names were changed* to protect the women’s identities, but their stories remain harrowing. Some were colleagues or in the music business and others happened to cross paths with May.
One woman Sophia* met May around 2000 in Wellington, New Zealand through her work at a radio station. She was into house and techno and went to a gig to see May play with a friend. She found herself in a VIP area with May, eventually striking up a conversation with him.
He invited them to sit down on a couch and then she alleges that he “shoved his hands under both our bums and squeezed really hard.”
Sophia* says she jumped up in shock and moved away from May. “I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember feeling like he was telling me to fuck off. It was really weird, he had this creepy laugh,” she says.
One woman Tania* worked with May over several years in the early to mid-2000s, during which she was financially exploited and sexually abused. She was working for a label in the UK in 2002. The first time they met, he pinched her ass. Then a few weeks later for a meeting, she flew to Detroit to interview him. He insisted on part of the meeting take place at his loft and she describes May assaulting her there.
“I was walking up the stairs in front of him, maybe four or five steps in front, when I felt the full weight of his hand on top of my head. He spun me around and sat me down on the stairs in one movement, and he pulled out and held his penis.”
His abuse did not end there.
Another woman Lara* recounts being at a gig of May’s in the UK in 2004 with some friends when they started chatting with May after it was over. They were invited to his hotel room as a group. They went there, chatted and had some drinks. Her male friend left at May’s suggestion after she felt very tired and then she was assaulted.
Lara* reports: “The next thing I recall was someone touching me on my side. I opened my eyes and remember feeling really disoriented. I saw Derrick standing in front of me, completely naked and with an erection. Before I could say anything, he kissed me and shoved his tongue down my throat. I was really shocked. I made it clear I didn’t want that.”
The fourth woman, Lisa* worked as an intern at a boutique hotel in Amsterdam in 2008. It was policy to lead guests up to their room. They chatted amicably on the way up, but when they got to the room, he closed the door.
Lisa* continues: “I went into the bathroom to point out the facilities in there, and when I turned around he was standing, blocking the doorway, with an erection and his hand on his crotch. He said ‘look how excited you make me.’ I tried to get past him to get to the exit, but he grabbed me and threw me against the wall. He kept me there and put his knee between my legs, pinning me against the wall.
“That’s when he really started grinding on me. He was rubbing his dick on me, touching me everywhere: on my butt, my clothes, on my breasts, on my vagina. He tried to grope me everywhere and tried to kiss me.”
She escaped, but she told her supervisor who supposedly made a note of it. She filed a verbal report with the Amsterdam police, but has to go to Amsterdam to file a written one for an official investigation to begin.
In response to the accusations, May gave the following statement to DJ Mag:
“As a black man working in a white-dominated and openly biased industry, am I expected to have learned the painful lesson that there is no such thing as truth, fairness, or due process?
“When will the long, storied history of weaponizing the sexuality of African American men end?
“Must I collaborate under duress with my own victimization at the hands of an openly hostile press that amplifies the so-called fears of privileged, anonymous women in an internet-mediated lynching?
“I have no interest in legitimizing these distortions.
“Women are the conduit of life, and as such, are to be protected, and not exploited. I live by those words.”
If anyone is affected by sexual assault, whether it happened to you or someone you care about, can find support on the National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673. You can also visit online.rainn.org to receive support via confidential online chat.