Avi Buffalo Accused of Rape by Former Bandmate, Music Pulled by Sub Pop

By Madison Bloom and Evan Minsker

Note: This article contains descriptions of alleged assault.

Rebecca Coleman—the musician, singer, and songwriter of the California duo Pageants—has come forward with allegations of rape, sexual misconduct, and emotional abuse against the artist Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, best known as Avi Buffalo. She alleged the assaults occurred while she was in the band with Zahner-Isenberg.

Coleman’s Pageants bandmate and longterm boyfriend Devin O’Brien confirmed to Pitchfork that Coleman initially told him about the alleged rapes within months of their occurrence. Citing Coleman’s statement, Sub Pop—which released Avi Buffalo’s music between 2009 and 2014—has announced that it is pulling that music from streaming services and retail stores. Pitchfork has reached out to Zahner-Isenberg for comment.

On July 27, Coleman posted a statement on Pageants’ Instagram account, detailing two different incidents in which Zahner-Isenberg allegedly raped her. The first account in the statement allegedly occurred in April 2009 when Coleman had already been in Zahner-Isenberg’s band for roughly three years. She joined as a keyboard player and vocalist in 2006, according to her statement.

Coleman said Zahner-Isenberg called and told her to come to his house to take press photos. “I asked if the other bandmates were coming and he said no,” Coleman wrote. “I thought that was unfair and strange, but he attributed it to the fact that we needed the photos ASAP.” Coleman noted that she wasn’t comfortable being alone with Zahner-Isenberg, and that she hoped Devin O’Brien—who was also reportedly invited to the photoshoot—would already be at the house. “That wasn’t the case,” she wrote. Coleman continued:

When Avi opened the door he immediately began undressing me. I was shocked by what was going on and told him no and to stop. He begged me over and over and insisted that I just let him go down on me. To this day I live with regret for not standing my ground. I agreed to fool around with him but made it very clear that we were not going to have sex.

As soon as this began it felt wrong and I became super uncomfortable. He then got on top of me and I reminded him that he had agreed to not have sex with me. He penetrated me anyway. I told him to stop but he didn’t. I tried to push him off of me but he was putting all of his weight down onto me. It was at this time that I heard the front door close. Devin had arrived. Everything washed over me and I became really emotional. I pleaded for Avi to stop and told him that I wanted to go out there and that “I really like that guy.” When he still wouldn’t stop I told him I was going to scream. He proceeded to hold his hand over my mouth to muffle me while he continued to rape me. When he finished I was furious, embarrassed, ashamed, and I felt like I had betrayed Devin.