Former Model Sues Axl Rose, Accusing Him of 1989 Rape

Axl Rose of the band Guns N’ Roses was sued on Wednesday by a woman who accused him of dragging her by the hair, tying her up and raping her in a New York hotel in 1989.

The suit was filed in New York State Supreme Court, in Manhattan, by Sheila Kennedy, a former model who has appeared in Penthouse magazine. She accused Mr. Rose of sexual assault and battery, and her suit seeks unspecified damages.

Ms. Kennedy’s suit is the latest in a series of cases against powerful men that have been brought under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law that created a one-year window for people who say they were victims of sexual abuse to file civil suits after the statute of limitations has expired. That window ends this week.

In recent weeks, such cases have been filed against Steven Tyler of Aerosmith; the music executive L.A. Reid; and Neil Portnow, the former head of the organization behind the Grammy Awards. Last Thursday, the singer Cassie filed an explosive suit against Sean Combs — the producer and executive also known as Diddy and Puff Daddy — but it was settled in one day. (Mr. Portnow has denied the accusation; Mr. Tyler and Mr. Reid have not responded. A lawyer for Mr. Combs said that the settlement was “in no way an admission of wrongdoing.”)

In a statement, Alan S. Gutman, a lawyer for Mr. Rose, said: “Simply put, this incident never happened.” He added: “Though he doesn’t deny the possibility of a fan photo taken in passing, Mr. Rose has no recollection of ever meeting or speaking to the Plaintiff, and has never heard about these fictional allegations prior to today.”

In her suit, Ms. Kennedy says she met Mr. Rose in early 1989, when she went to a New York nightclub with a friend who was a fan of Guns N’ Roses. The band was at perhaps the peak of its fame — and its members relished their reputations as hard-partying bad boys — but Ms. Kennedy says in her suit that at the time she did not know who Mr. Rose was.

According to Ms. Kennedy’s complaint, Mr. Rose invited her and another woman to a party at his suite in a hotel on Central Park West, where he offered them cocaine and alcohol. According to the complaint, the party “was in full swing” until Mr. Rose called for everyone to leave except Ms. Kennedy, the other woman and a man.

According to the complaint, Mr. Rose began having sex with the other woman, in an “aggressive” way that Ms. Kennedy says in the suit “appeared painful” for the woman. Ms. Kennedy says that she went to another room in the suite, where she could hear the sounds of breaking glass and objects being thrown in Mr. Rose’s room, and that she heard him yelling at the other woman and calling her a “whore.”

According to Ms. Kennedy’s suit, Mr. Rose stormed into the room where she was, knocked her down, “grabbed her by the hair and dragged her across the suite back to his bedroom.” Her knees were bleeding from being scraped against the rug, the suit says.

In Mr. Rose’s room, the suit says, he threw her facedown on the bed, tied her hands behind her back with pantyhose and sexually assaulted her, forcing anal penetration. The suit says that Mr. Rose never sought Ms. Kennedy’s consent, and that she “did not consent and felt overpowered.”

In her suit, Ms. Kennedy says that she has suffered anxiety and depression as a result of the incident with Mr. Rose, and that her career as an actress and model has suffered. Ms. Kennedy catalogs her success as a Penthouse model, mentioning that she was Pet of the Year in 1983 and was on the cover of the magazine four times.

Ms. Kennedy has discussed her encounter with Mr. Rose in the past, including an interview on the website of The Daily Mail in 2016, and in a memoir, “No One’s Pet,” published that same year. She also appeared in “Look Away,” a 2021 documentary about sexual abuse of young women in the music industry.

In her memoir, Ms. Kennedy also described her encounter with Mr. Rose as a violent one, which left her “crying and bleeding.” But she added in the book: “Weirdly enough, I was okay with this. I had wanted to be with him since the minute I’d first laid eyes on him, and now I was getting him.”

When asked about that account, Ann Olivarius, a lawyer for Ms. Kennedy, said in a statement: “Like many victims of sexual assault, it has taken Sheila time to come to terms with her experiences and to be able to talk about it fully and openly.”

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