Two well-known DJs, DJ Empress and Ida Engberg, have published detailed personal testimonials on social media alleging that they were sexually assaulted or had their drink spiked by recently deceased DJ Erick Morillo.
Morillo was accused of rape, after an alleged incident at the DJ’s home in December 2019. Morillo initially denied the accusations, but on 5th August, results of a rape kit taken at the time of the incident tested positive for his DNA. He handed himself in to the police with his attorney the next day, and was arrested and charged with sexual battery.
Morillo was found dead in his home on 1st September, three days before he was due to appear in court. His cause of death remains unconfirmed, but police have reportedly ruled out foul play.
After his death, eulogies from DJ friends and associates from around the world were posted on social media. Many dance music fans, artists and industry figures have been angered by the lack of recognition in many of these eulogies of Morillo’s sexual battery charge, as outlined by Annabel Ross in her Medium post on Sunday (6th September).
Since his death, American drum & bass artist DJ Empress and Swedish DJ Ida Engberg have gone public with their testimonials of Morillo’s sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour, which span decades.
Writing on Facebook on Tuesday 8th September, DJ Empress wrote candidly about the sexual harassment she experienced from Morillo, and that she’d been “holding this in since 1998.”
“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 said in the post. “So much so that he even got my phone # out of the store’s database without my consent and also a friend of mine’s home # that I was at so he could call me & leave me harassing disgusting weird breathy, sexual messages.
“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 & whisper perverted sexual things he wanted to do to me. The first few times he did that to me, I remember just freezing. I didn’t know what to do, I was so young… He was this super intense, totally perverted creep.”
She went on to say how the other employees in the shop knew about and seemingly tolerated this behaviour, before continuing: “I honestly did not know how to handle it when he would molest me in the middle of the store. I would get sick to my stomach with anxiety & my heart would race when he would come to the store or if I heard he was coming in. I did not have the emotional toughness & wherewithal to know how to handle it or tell him to fuck off. Nor did I have the option to quit because my father had literally thrown me out of his apartment & cut me off financially for deciding to be a DJ like he was.
“Stuff like this really was hard & still is hard to this day because of all the blaming & shame. Especially because at that time if you spoke up, you ran risk of being cancelled by the male dominated scene. There were very few of us female DJs & artists then. I would feel so mad at myself for not knowing how to handle him molesting me & ashamed that I had to go through with that treatment as I tried to figure out another, less demeaning way as a DJ. Not only did I not like that & was teased that I did, but then there was the fact that all of my male coworkers forced that on me.”
Empress, who was 17 at the time, added: “I had to speak up & say something because everyone that actually knew him, knew what he was like.
She concluded: “I realized that if I didn’t speak up, it could possibly give other person a chance to do this without being held accountable and I want to help be a part of the change that needs to happen not only in the Music scene, but also in this world.”
You can read the full post below.
I've been holding this in since 1998, so I might as well say it now, as it may help some people. Erick Morillo used to...Posted by DJ Empress on Monday, 7 September 2020
Following a discussion in the comments on a Jamie Jones Instagram post about Morillo, Ida Engberg posted a quote: “I met [Erick] Morillo in Ibiza back in 2006. 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 chose (sic) 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.”
She later posted an image on her own Instagram profile, saying: “Our dance music community should not be brushing the behaviour of Eric (sic) Morillo under the carpet. We owe it all to women of our generation and to generations to come. We should not glorify rapists...”
View this post on Instagram
In a lengthy discussion under the post, she said: “My story about Erick was not so bad that I had to report him. I’m saying it made me realise who he was. I saw his darkness and the predator... He was known for his behaviour.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, there is a helpline number specifically for the electronic dance music industry. Originally set up by DJ Mag, the Association For Electronic Music (AFEM) and others, the helpline is being operated by workplace health organisation Health Assured and staffed by trained experts. The number to call is 0800 030 5182. You can also contact Rape Crisis on 0808 802 9999, as well as the Samaritans on 116 123.
Copyright Thrust Publishing Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.djmag.com as the source.