Under mounting allegations of sexual misconduct, Pittsburgh's Anti-Flag has become a disappearing act

click to enlarge Under mounting allegations of sexual misconduct, Pittsburgh's Anti-Flag has become a disappearing act
CP Photos: Jared Wickerham
Pat Thetic, Chris #2, Justin Sane, and Chris Head of Anti-Flag
The members of Anti-Flag have been awfully quiet. The Pittsburgh-based punk band, who once loudly championed progressive, social justice causes in their songs, suddenly broke up in July 2023 after a woman alleged that its frontman, Justin “Sane” Geever, violently raped her years prior. Not only did the long-time music outfit disband, they shut down their social media platforms and, besides releasing a handful of official statements, including one responding to a damning Rolling Stone article that detailed the many other accusations against Geever, disappeared from public view.

Almost a year later, Geever and his former bandmates Pat “Thetic” Bollinger, Chris Head, and Chris Barker are being forced back into the spotlight. This time, it’s not only Geever being scrutinized, but the entire band, as a lawsuit seeks to hold all the men accountable for allegedly encouraging, enabling, and participating in the victimization of female fans, many of them underage.

Kristina Sarhadi and her legal team released an amended complaint and request for a jury trial aimed at bringing Geever to justice. A statement provided to Pittsburgh City Paper on March 20 points out that Geever, facing “mounting legal pressure,” has “liquidated his assets, transferred money out of the country, and is planning to flee the United States according to new court filings.”

The legal pressure includes a civil lawsuit filed in November 2023 by Sarhadi, who, during a podcast appearance, first accused a punk singer later revealed to be Geever of raping her in 2010 after meeting him at a show in Brooklyn.

Since initially reaching out, Sarhadi’s legal team confirms that Geever has left the country.

“We understand that Geever has left the country, but we do not know where he has gone,” reads an email from Zachary McConnell, a senior associate with McAllister Olivarius, a law firm representing Sarhadi, along with KBM Law.

In a statement also shared on March 20, Sarhadi wrote that sources “confirmed the recent sale” of Geever’s house in Pittsburgh and that the musician planned to “wire transfer of his assets to a bank in Ireland, where he maintains dual citizenship.”

Sarhadi also requested that Geever’s sister, Mary, a “practicing lawyer” who she claims has been named his power of attorney, “become authorized to accept service of the lawsuit on Geever’s behalf”

McConnell adds that he and the rest of Sarhadi’s legal team are still “awaiting responses” from Geever and Anti-Flag’s business entity Hardwork Distribution.

Hardwork is being sued for negligence, with the suit asserting that the company was “aware of Geever’s practice of sexually assaulting young women and girls, and the company aided and abetted such behavior by, among other acts and omissions, allowing Geever to lead the band and perform at shows despite knowing that he used his fame and Anti-Flag’s feminist stance to disguise that he was a sexual predator.” The claim includes Bollinger, Barker, and Head as officers of Hardwork.

Efforts to contact the three other Anti-Flag members have been in vain. City Paper attempted to reach Bollinger using an email address connected to a joint statement he sent last year only to receive a message that the email was “undeliverable.”
click to enlarge Under mounting allegations of sexual misconduct, Pittsburgh's Anti-Flag has become a disappearing act
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Pat "Thetic" Bollinger of Anti-Flag
During a Zoom interview with CP, Sarhadi claims that, since she came forward, women from all over the world have contacted her with stories of being victimized by Geever and Anti-Flag. This includes testimony in the complaint that, at a 2002 album release party in Pittsburgh, a witness “watched the members of Anti-Flag mingle outside the venue with clearly underage girls” who appeared “to be between 14 and 15 years old.” It goes on to say that Geever and other band members were “hugging and inappropriately kissing them.” Other accounts go as far back as the 1990s.

“They are people, many in the U.S., that I talk to regularly, and many in Europe, Australia, Canada, South America,” Sarhadi says, adding, “I talked to dozens and dozens of women who desperate to see something happen.”

Sarhadi and her team believe that Geever preyed on approximately 60 women, many of them underage. Sarhadi’s lawyer Karen Barth Menzies says they filed the amended complaint to include information they received, either through an investigation or through people reaching out to Sarhadi, since the initial 2023 filing.

Though the alleged rape happened in 2010, Sarhadi was able to file a complaint under the New York Adult Survivors Act, which allows a one-year window for sexual abuse survivors in the state to pursue lapsed claims. As the complaint points out, Sarhadi “timely brings her causes of action within the ‘retroactive revival window’ of the ASA, which removes the previously applicable statute of limitations.”

Sarhadi says she originally sought restorative justice — a mediative process allowing perpetrators to take responsibility for their actions — but that Hardwork instead took legal action by hiring the head of the New York City office of Buchanan Ingersol and Rooney.

“It’s really unfortunate that we’re at this stage and moving towards trial,” Sarhadi says.

CP reached out to Buchanan Ingersol and Rooney for comment but did not hear back by the deadline.

Sarhadi, who now works in trauma therapy, says the situation only adds to the distress caused by being victimized by someone she respected and admired. She recalls how, at the age of 11, she started following Anti-Flag and, over the years, saved money to attend their shows and buy their albums and merchandise. She says she also played an active role in helping to raise funds for the Barker family when the musician’s sister was fatally shot in 2007.

In hindsight, Sarhadi now believes that Anti-Flag’s progressive messaging — including the 2018 Silence = Violence nationwide tour that promoted American Fall, an album covering a myriad of issues, including physical and sexual violence against women — lured vulnerable women and girls like herself. The band was known for directly addressing women’s rights in their music, including in the 2005 song “Feminism is For Everybody.”

“It’s what they were about and the reason that myself and my friends went to their shows, and the reason I felt safe when I did meet Justin,” she explains.

Says McConnell, “Our client is reasonable. She seeks accountability, not vengeance. She has been very surprised that Justin’s response to the suit was to try to avoid service and to leave the United States, and that Hardwork’s has been to hire the head of the [New York] office of a major firm to fight, rather than make amends. Neither reaction is in keeping with the ethos of Anti-Flag.”