Sexual assault began at 13, Runaways songwriter says; her suit names ex-KROQ DJ, band manager

Rodney Bingenheimer, left, in a black blazer and red shirt. At right, Kim Fowley in a green sweater and brown blazer.
Former DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, left, and late rock impresario Kim Fowley have been accused of sexual assault by Runaways songwriter Kari Krome.
(Eric Charbonneau; Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

Kari Krome — a songwriter and co-founder of the 1970s all-female punk group the Runaways — has filed a lawsuit against the estate of the Runaways’ late manager Kim Fowley and the former KROQ DJ and nightclub owner Rodney Bingenheimer. She alleges that the men sexually assaulted her in the 1970s, starting when she was 13.

Krome, whose legal name is Carrie Mitchell, “is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, sexual battery, assault, and molestation,” say court documents obtained by The Times.

When she was “approximately 13 and 14 and 15 years old, Defendant Rodney Bingenheimer and Defendant Kim Fowley used their roles, status, and power as adults, as well as their connections to and work in the music industry to gain access to manipulate, exploit, and sexually assault” her, the documents say.


According to the lawsuit, the sexual abuse began after Krome met Bingenheimer, who was 28, at his nightclub, Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, on the Sunset Strip. She claims that he began grooming her and eventually began sexually assaulting her.

Stories of debauchery have long circulated around the late Los Angeles rock impresario Kim Fowley.

July 14, 2015

Krome alleges that Bingenheimer knew that she was interested in music and introduced her to his “good friend” Fowley, who eventually hired her as a songwriter for his publishing company.

According to the suit, Krome broached the idea of an all-girls rock band with Fowley. Separately, they recruited the members, including Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett, to ultimately form the Runaways.

The suit also claims that Fowley took credit for many of the songs Krome wrote for the group, including lyrics for their hit “Cherry Bomb” that she claims he lifted straight from her journal.

This isn’t the first time Fowley, who died in 2015, has been accused of sexual assault. In a Huffington Post article published shortly after Fowley’s death, the Runaways’ bassist, Jackie Fuchs, claimed that he raped her at a party while others watched; Krome corroborated Fuchs’ story and in the article detailed her own allegations of assault against Fowley.

Kim Fowley, the mercurial and eccentric music producer and Svengali who created and managed the all-female rock group the Runaways in the 1970s, died Thursday after a long battle with bladder cancer.

Jan. 15, 2015

Krome spoke with Rolling Stone about the suit, saying the allegations had weighed on her for years, but she feared not being taken seriously.


“You can come to a conclusion or think that something isn’t right, but if you’re speaking on something too soon, a lot of times you’ll get nothing but blowback, and you have to wait until the time is right,” Krome told the magazine. “I never shut up about it. Just nobody wanted to hear it. Nobody seemed to care. We’re still looking at these characters through a lens of glamorization of that era and that scene instead of looking at them through a lens of doing things that are criminal.”

Bingenheimer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Times was unable to reach a representative of Fowley’s estate late Thursday.