Axl Rose accused of sexually assaulting former Penthouse model

Axl Rose has been accused of sexual assault.
Axl Rose has been accused of sexual assault. Photo credit: Getty Images

Axl Rose, lead singer of the rock band Guns N' Roses, has been accused of sexually assaulting a Penthouse magazine model in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in New York.

Model and actress Sheila Kennedy, identified as the plaintiff in the complaint, alleges that Rose "violently" sexually assaulted her in 1989 after they met at a New York City nightclub, and is suing the singer for battery, assault, gender-motivated violence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday with the New York State Supreme Court and was obtained by CNN.

Kennedy is suing for an unspecified amount.

According to the complaint, the incident occurred when Rose "was at the peak of his commercial success," and alleges he "used his fame, status, and power as a celebrity and performer in the music industry to gain access to manipulate, control, and violently sexually assault Kennedy."

The complaint describes an incident that took place in a New York City hotel room, where Kennedy alleges Rose, now 61, "knocked her to the floor," dragged her by the hair, restrained her hands and proceeded to sexually assault her "while he was in a sexual, volatile rage."

"Kennedy did not consent and felt overpowered," the complaint reads. "She understood that the safest thing to do was to lie in bed and wait for Rose to finish assaulting her."

As a result, Kennedy has suffered "severe emotional, physical, financial and psychological distress," according to the complaint.

CNN has reached out to a representative for Rose for comment.

"We expect that Sheila Kennedy's decision to file this suit will be an important turning point for the music industry," Dr. Ann Olivarius, chair of the executive committee at McAllister Olivarius, said in a statement to CNN on Wednesday.

"Her account is unfortunately all too typical of a culture of violence and sexual misconduct that has been allowed to exist in plain sight for decades. It's not just individual musicians stepping out of line, but an industrial system of enabling them and then covering up their misconduct and crimes, silencing survivors and normalizing sexual assault. We hope Sheila's bravery helps other victims find their voice."

Kennedy is an actress and a model who has appeared on the cover of the adult magazine Penthouse. In 1983, she was featured as Penthouse's "Pet of the Year" model. She has previously outlined the allegations against Rose cited in Wednesday's lawsuit in her 2016 memoir "No One's Pet."

Rose is the lead singer for Guns N' Roses, a popular heavy metal rock band that formed in the mid-1980s with founding members Slash, Duff McKagen, Izzy Stradlin, and Steven Adler. Guns N' Roses has been nominated for three Grammys and is known for hits such as 'Sweet Child O' Mine' and 'Paradise City.'

Kennedy's lawsuit was filed under the pretense of the New York's Adult Survivors Act, which went into effect in late November 2022 and allows adult survivors of sexual abuse to sue their abusers in New York – even if the statute of limitations on their claims had expired.

The law has given adult survivors of sexual assault one year to file lawsuits against their perpetrators and is set to expire on November 24.