A #MeToo episode from 1969 casts a long shadow for a folk legend

He sang at the former Sen. John Kerry’s wedding and at inaugural events for President Bill Clinton. He collected lifetime achievement awards. He lent his voice and name to various causes, strumming his guitar for the crowd at Occupy Wall Street.

A #MeToo episode from 1969 casts a long shadow for a folk legend

He sang at the former Sen. John Kerry’s wedding and at inaugural events for President Bill Clinton. He collected lifetime achievement awards. He lent his voice and name to various causes, strumming his guitar for the crowd at Occupy Wall Street.

But Yarrow, 81, will not be making a planned appearance at a free, outdoor arts festival in the small town of Norwich, New York, because of a backlash stirred up over a decades-old crime.

Last month, organizers of the Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival billed Yarrow as one of “America’s longtime favorite musicians and performers” as they announced his performance. Then, this week, they announced that his performance, which was scheduled for September, had been canceled.

The furor was over an episode involving two teenage sisters, one 14 and the other 17, visiting his hotel room in 1969 to seek an autograph. Yarrow answered the door naked.

Yarrow was charged with taking indecent liberties with a minor, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three months in jail. President Jimmy Carter pardoned him in 1981.

“Some members of our community expressed concern, and after further investigation and careful consideration,” Melissa DeCordova, the president of the festival’s board, said in a statement Tuesday, “the decision was made to remove Yarrow from the music schedule.”

The festival takes place on the weekend after Labor Day every year in Norwich, a town of just more than 7,000 people about 180 miles northwest of New York City. The event typically draws some 10,000 people with live performances and displays of arts and crafts.

In an emailed statement, Yarrow said he did not believe the organizers’ choice was “unfair or unjust.”

“I fully support the current movements demanding equal rights for all and refusing to allow continued abuse and injury — most particularly of a sexual nature, of which I am, with great sorrow, guilty,” he said. “I do not seek to minimize or excuse what I have done and I cannot adequately express my apologies and sorrow for the pain and injury I have caused in this regard.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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