(Los Angeles, CA) — Today, partnered with Karen Barth Menzies, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of The Runaways co-founder and songwriter, Cari Lee Mitchell (publicly known as Kari Krome). The lawsuit identifies Rodney Bingenheimer and Kim Fowley as two sexual predators and accuses them of grooming and sexually assaulting Krome. The lawsuit was filed under the California Child Victims Act (AB 218), which allows survivors of child sexual abuse to take legal action against the perpetrators, and the institutions that harmed them.
“I don’t think it is okay that children and teenagers should have to pay for their careers with the currency of their bodies.” – Kari Krome, Survivor
“It is well known that Kim Fowley passed away years ago. What is unknown and what needs to be revealed is that he left a legacy of deep pain and suffering. That pain and suffering is evergreen,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “Under the new law, this courageous survivor, Kari Krome, is using her name and is standing up because it’s time for the full truth to be known.”
Bingenheimer, coined the “Mayor of the Sunset Strip”, is a Los Angeles based radio disc jockey who hosted Rodney on the ROQ, a radio program that ran on the LA rock station KROQ from 1976 to 2017. Bingenheimer was also owner of a popular nightclub, Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, that was known to host minors in the 1970’s. Currently, Bingenheimer hosts a radio show on Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel on SiriusXM. Kim Fowley was a well-known record producer, songwriter and musician. He also managed The Runaways in the 1970s. Fowley passed away in 2015.
“Rodney Bingenheimer used his English Disco as a clearinghouse for grooming underaged girls and serving them up to rockstars, and he assaulted girls himself. Bingenheimer has enjoyed the false reputation of a sweet, innocent friend to rock stars when in reality, he was the source for the exploitation and sexual assault of underage girls.” – Karen Barth Menzies
As the complaint states, after grooming Krome and establishing what Krome believed to be a foundation of trust, Bingenheimer sexually assaulted Krome for the first time in his apartment – Krome was only 13 years old. The abuse continued for months after. Bingenheimer introduced Krome to Kim Fowley, under the premise that Fowley could help her career. Fowley and Krome eventually co-founded the all-girl band The Runaways.
According to the filing, following the abuse by Bingenheimer, Krome was abused by Kim Fowley. Shortly after signing Krome to a publishing deal on her 14th birthday, Fowley physically and sexually assaulted Krome in his Los Angeles apartment. Fowley continued to sexually abuse Krome approximately six more times over the course of the next year. Decades later, Fowley continued his abusive behavior on Krome over the phone.
“I told people about these assaults when they happened, and they didn’t want to hear it. They didn’t want to hurt their careers, or they didn’t want to dispel their illusions about their idols,” said Kari Krome. “Years later, when others spoke up about their experiences, people tried to gaslight us about what we knew happened. Only recently are people starting to listen and take us seriously, and it is never too late to hold people accountable.”
This is not the first time that Fowley has been accused of sexual abuse. In 2015, bass player of the Runaways, Jackie Fuchs, came forward and shared that she was sexually assaulted by Fowley in 1975. Krome was quick to come out and publicly support Fuchs, saying she had similar experiences.
“Kim Fowley’s death did not undo the trauma he has caused. Fowley’s legacy includes the rape of underaged girls, and the law finally allows survivors to seek justice,” said Barth Menzies. “We will show that neither time nor old age — not even death — will allow rich, powerful men in the music industry to escape the sins of their past.”