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The fall of a punk-rock idealist: Justin Sane of ANTI-FLAG faces damning allegations

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The stage lights dimmed, the crowd roared, and Kristina Sarhadi felt her heartbeat in sync with the rhythmic thump of the drums. She was at an Anti-Flag concert in Brooklyn, a band she’d admired for their activist message and raw punk energy. That night, she found herself locked in eye contact with the band’s frontman, Justin Sane, also known as Justin Cathal Geever.

Days later, she would be at a film festival afterparty as Geever’s guest, mingling with an elite crowd. By the end of that fateful night, she’d wish she had never crossed paths with him. According to Sarhadi, what should have been a starstruck evening turned into an alleged nightmarish experience involving sexual assault. Her accusations against Geever are grave and have recently been corroborated by several other women.

Anti-Flag, long-standing champions of political activism within the punk-rock community, disbanded earlier this summer. The catalyst was Sarhadi’s harrowing account shared on the “Enough” podcast. While she initially did not name Geever directly, the context left little doubt. This led to a storm of public speculation and ultimately the band’s breakup.

Geever vehemently denied these allegations, stating that all his sexual encounters had been consensual. The other members of Anti-Flag, shocked and confused, expressed their heartbreak but chose to disband given the severity of the allegations.

A recent investigative piece by Rolling Stone has turned the whisperings into a roar. Sarhadi confirmed that her podcast account was about Geever, and furthermore, 12 additional women have come forward with allegations that paint a consistent, disturbing pattern.

These women claim encounters dating back to the ’90s and as recent as 2020, often when they were much younger than Geever. Seven of these accusers were teenagers at the time of their alleged encounters, and one was a mere 12 years old, although it should be noted that Geever was 17 at the time.

A Pattern Emerges

Most of the women describe a similar modus operandi: Geever would lock eyes with them during performances and approach them afterwards. There are tales of non-consensual BDSM, instances of Geever allegedly lying about his age, and far more grievous allegations.

Some accusers even claim that other members of Anti-Flag were aware of Geever’s actions, sometimes even present when he brought young women backstage or on tour. Rebecca, who claims to have dated a 25-year-old Geever when she was just 17, told Rolling Stone, “They knew how young everybody was.”

Justin Sane live
Justin Sane live

The Shattered Illusion and The Band’s Response

For many fans and band members, the allegations have shattered the illusion of Anti-Flag as champions of social justice. The remaining members have expressed their sense of betrayal, stating that their trust had been “wholly broken” and emphasizing the importance of survivors sharing their stories.

Fallout and The Path Forward

As a result of these allegations, several bands have left Anti-Flag’s label, A-F Records. The label is currently in the process of unwinding, a difficult and protracted task. The accusers, meanwhile, insist that simply disbanding Anti-Flag is not sufficient accountability for the damage allegedly inflicted by Geever.

It is a disillusioning tale for a band that stood as an emblem of activism and social justice, now marred by the alleged actions of its frontman. As the punk community grapples with this unsettling narrative, one thing is clear: the story of Anti-Flag has reached a grim interlude, leaving its future and the validity of its past work in question.

For the women who have come forward, the coming days will be a test of the legal and cultural systems that handle such accusations. And for the fans, it is a moment of reckoning, forcing them to question the integrity of artists they once idolized.

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The aftermath of ANTI-FLAG: a dissolution of ideals amid allegations against Justin Sane – the band issues statement