In the days following Erick Morillo‘s death at age 49, tribute posts from his fellow superstars were met with criticism for failing to acknowledge his alleged sexual abuse. Amid ongoing arguments as to whether the DJ and producer had been judged too harshly in the court of public opinion, Ida Engberg and DJ Empress have shared personal accounts of their dealings with him that suggest his charges arose from one instance of a longstanding behavior pattern.
Engberg, a Swedish superstar techno DJ, shared her story on September 5th in the comments of a tribute post by Jamie Jones that has since been deleted. She recounted that after she met him in Ibiza in 2006, he tried to force feed her MDMA once at his home and made a crude remark to her when he saw her again later.
September 5th 2020 pic.twitter.com/HNfFjkrKYx
— Business Teshno (@businessteshno) September 5, 2020
“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 in my mouth against my will,” she wrote. “I got upset and asked what it was. He laughed and said, ‘It’s MDMA.'”
Engberg went on to write that she left the party, and when she saw Morillo again he told her, “well you were not going to fuck me anyway were you” and said she was not welcome back at his house.
DJ Empress has shared more grave accounts of the “I Like To Move It” producer’s sexual misconduct. Her story dates back to 1998 when she worked as a buyer for New York City record store Satellite Records at the age of 17. She alleged that Morillo would approach her from behind while she worked, press his groin into her backside, and whisper sexual fantasies to her. She also said that he got ahold of her phone number from the store’s database as well as that of her friend and repeatedly left her sexually explicit voice mail messages.
“The first few times he did that to me, I remember just freezing,” the drum and bass DJ and producer wrote. “I didn’t know what to do, I was so young. It was the ‘I Like To Move It’ guy – everyone at that time knew that song. He was this super intense, totally perverted creep.”
DJ Empress’ account also illustrated the power imbalances preventing women in electronic music from coming forward – especially two decades ago. After being cut off by her father for pursuing a career as a DJ, she depended on the job at Satellite and was made to believe that she could lose it by standing up for herself. “The owner explained to me that if I wanted to work at the store, that encounters like that was part of how things are with the more successful DJs,” her post went on.
Erick Morillo’s Court Case
In early August, a rape kit conducted by the Miami police in connection with an alleged December, 2019 incident tested positive with Erick Morillo’s DNA. The same day, he turned himself in to the police with the help of his attorney.
Morillo’s accuser, a fellow DJ, said she and a friend went to Morillo’s Miami Beach residence after performing alongside him at a private party on Star Island. She alleged that he repeatedly made advances towards her which she refused before becoming highly intoxicated and falling asleep in a guest room, later waking up nude with him standing next to the bed, also nude.
On September 1st – three days before Morillo was set to appear in court – police found him dead at home. His official cause of death is pending an autopsy by the Miami Dade Medical Examiner.
Morillo was the latest in a recent string of big-name DJs including Space Jesus, Bassnectar and Billy Kenny to face public disgrace for allegations of sexual misconduct. Some have said that his behavior was widely known among his colleagues, giving weight to argument that male dominance of the electronic music industry has made it hostile for women.
Shortly after sharing her story, Engberg posted a call to action for greater accountability in the industry. “Our dance music community should not be brushing the behavior of Erick Morillo under the carpet,” she wrote. “We owe it to all women of our generation and generations to come.”
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Erick Morillo’s funeral will be held on Wednesday, September 9th.