Megadeth fired longtime bassist and co-founder David Ellefson on Monday after Ellefson was accused of grooming a girl for sex while she was underage.
Last week explicit videos of Ellefson, 56, were leaked online and shared on Twitter. The leaks included videos of Ellefson masturbating and also showed screenshots of texts between Ellefson and a fan who was 19 years old. Social media users then began alleging that Ellefson persuaded the 19-year-old woman into a sexual relationship by grooming her while she was underage. Ellefson has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Ellefson and his representatives did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Ellefson addressed the issue in a statement posted on his social media accounts May 10, but he deleted both his Twitter and Instagram pages last week. Loudwire reported last week Ellefson admitted the leaks were copies of his “private and personal conversations” and said they were “adult interactions that were taken out of context.”
In a since-deleted Instagram post, Ellefson elaborated: “As much as it’s not something I’m proud of, these were private, adult interactions that were taken out of context and manipulated to inflict maximum damage to my reputation, my career and family. The other party involved has made a statement which you can see… I thank her for doing so and hope that this clarifies that the situation was not at all as presented.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the woman responded to the controversy and said in an Instagram post that’s since been deleted that the interactions she had with Ellefson were consensual and that she was “never” underage.
Megadeth addressed the allegations when they first came to light and said in a statement last week, “we look forward to the truth coming to light.”
Dave Mustaine, the group’s guitarist and singer, announced Ellefson’s departure from the band in a Twitter post Monday.
“We are informing our fans that David Ellefson is no longer playing with Megadeth and that we are officially parting ways with him,” Mustaine wrote. “We do not take this decision lightly. While we do not know every detail of what occurred, with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible moving forward. We look forward to seeing our fans on the road this summer, and we cannot wait to share our brand new music with the world. It is almost complete.”
Mustaine and Ellefson co-founded Megadeth in 1983. When Megadeth briefly broke up in 2002 Mustaine released a solo album under the Megadeth name called “The System Has Failed,” which caused a huge feud with Ellefson who argued he legally owned the band’s name. Mustaine and Ellefson eventually buried the hatchet and Ellefson rejoined the band in 2010. At the time he rejoined the band Ellefson told The Pogg, “having that time away created a realization for both of us that, while we are both productive individually, Megadeth is definitely stronger with both of us in it together.
Megadeth will return to touring this August on its North American Metal Tour of the Year without Ellefson.
Check out Mustaine and Megadeth’s full statement below.