Update: Timothy Heller has responded to Martinez' social media claims, exclusively to Refinery29. Her responses have been edited for grammar and clarity.
Refinery29: Martinez wrote this in her most recent statement: "I want to thank my fans who took the time to research the timeline, analyze past Instagram photos, and question the story being told, which reveal her false statements." How do you respond to this?
Heller: This statement really hurt to read. She knows that the "research" her fans are doing is being done is an extremely cruel way towards me, and is basically thanking them for terrorizing me. I will never understand that. It also struck me as strange for her to reference the "timeline", implying that the incident never took place in the first place, when she already said that it happened in her first statement. Thanking her fans for doing these things just came across as very insincere and basically is just perpetuating this online culture of cyberbullying and tearing down people over the internet. It's sad.
R29: What would you tell fans of Martinez who don't believe your side of the story, or believe that you have something to gain from coming out?
H: I would tell them that I realize why they're in denial. I was too, because I also loved her. It really hurts when people you love betray you. So I forgive them, but I also urge them to try to see this situation with more compassion. I would ask them to think about if I really wanted to be bombarded by hundreds of messages a day calling me a liar and having to relive my own assault case. I would also ask them to think about how much they really know about the people they idolize, and if it is worth defending someone they truly don't know. I realize that there is no cold hard evidence I can present to make them believe me. At the end of the day I'm sure many of them are going to stay in denial. I came out with this story to help the hundreds of people messaging me, thanking me for speaking up. I did this to shed light on a side of abuse that hasn't been taken seriously, and desperately needs to. And I accomplished that, regardless of who doesn't believe me. So at the end of the day, I know I did the right thing.
Original story continues below.
Singer and The Voice alum Melanie Martinez, 22, has released a second statement denying allegations of sexual assault, reports People. Earlier this month, her former friend Timothy Heller alleged that Martinez sexually assaulted her in June 2015.
Martinez's statement, which she posted to Twitter, reads: "I understand how hard it could be to see my side of the story, considering no one with a heart would want to invalidate anyone speaking up about this topic. I want to thank my fans who took the time to research the timeline, analyze past Instagram photos, and question the story being told, which reveal her false statements," Martinez wrote. "I trusted so many people in my life who took advantage of that trust for their own personal gain. Please know that my intentions with everything that I do in my life are always pure and I would never be intimate with someone without their absolute consent."
Her fans have used Instagram photos and other social media posts to try to cast doubt on Heller's story, under the Twitter hashtag #TimothyIsOverParty. Fans accuse Heller of lying because a date in her story may be incorrect based on an Instagram photo. Another fan pointed out that Heller posted a selfie of herself several months after the alleged assault, with the caption "I'm currently the happiest and healthiest I've even been" and questioning if Heller is sufficiently traumatized. They are also questioning her story because Heller has openly discussed having mental health issues.
Martinez also thanks her fans "who took the time to research the timeline, analyze past Instagram photos," apparently referencing the #TimothyIsOverParty hashtag. Heller has received a barrage of negative criticism and harassment on Twitter since sharing her story. On December 10, she wrote that "This is why victims don’t speak up. I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone."
Heller initially published her account of the alleged sexual assault on Twitter on December 4. She alleged that Martinez pressured her into sexual activity, and when Heller did not voice consent, Martinez performed oral sex on her and penetrated her with a sex toy. Heller described that Martinez had "broken her down," and that it does not matter and she "didn't resist during the action" because "she just wanted it to all be over."
In an interview with Newsweek, Heller said she was reluctant to come forward because "[Martinez's] fans see her as this angel who understands them." Heller chose to tell her story because "I've been reading all the #metoo stories, and though I'm obviously in support of the people coming forward, I wasn't sure if my story of being assaulted fit." In the #MeToo movement, stories have mainly focused on cisgender male-on-cisgender female assault, but Heller's story is one of the first mainstream stories about alleged queer female violence.
Indeed, Heller also noted that the dynamics are complicated because of gender. "Girls can rape girls. Best friends can rape best friends. Friendship doesn’t equal consent. Silence doesn’t equal consent," she wrote in her Twitter story. In the Newsweek interview, Heller further elaborated that she "loved [Martinez] even after it happened, and I had this sick need to protect her, which I've learned is very common for victims of assault, especially those hurt by their family or friends."
In her initial denial, posted on Twitter on December 5, Martinez wrote that she was "horrified and saddened" about Heller's story. As we noted above, Martinez does not deny that sexual activity occurred between her and Heller, but said that Heller "never said no." Simply not saying no does not equal enthusiastic, willing consent. You can read both of Martinez's statements, as well as Heller's story, below.
Martinez does not have any further comment beyond her Twitter post at this time, per her representation. Refinery29 has also reached out to Heller for comment.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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