Did Peter Yarrow sexually assault an underage girl? Folk icon sued by woman who came to NYC in 1969 to meet him
She fled from her home in Minnesota to meet him in the lobby of a Lower East Side hotel. The woman, who is now 68, alleged that Yarrow raped her and sent her back home the next day
Peter Yarrow, of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary fame, has been reportedly accused of sexually assaulting a girl in a Manhattan hotel room 52 years ago.
According to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, February 24, Yarrow developed a friendship with a young fan who attended several shows. In 1969, she went to New York City after running away from her family’s home in St Paul, Minnesota, and called Yarrow, who arranged to meet her in the lobby of a Lower East Side hotel. The woman, who is now 68, alleged that Yarrow raped her and, the next day, bought her a plane ticket back home and told her to leave.
The lawsuit claims the woman, who has not been named for legal reasons, “has been suffering the effects of Yarrow’s rape ever since” and is “unable to fully describe all of the details of that abuse and the extent of the harm she suffered as a result.” She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, claiming sexual abuse of a child, negligence, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress.
The lawsuit also names 'Peter, Paul & Mary Co' as a defendant because it “should have known that Yarrow was dangerous to children and posed a threat of sexual abuse to children.” Yarrow, who is now 82, pleaded guilty in 1970 for taking “indecent liberties” with a 14-year-old girl who went to his Washington, DC hotel room with her 17-year-old sister to get an autograph. He served three months in prison for the crime. In 1981, President Jimmy Carter pardoned Yarrow for the crime.
According to a 2019 statement given to the New York Times, the singer said, "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. 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.”
Yarrow was born in New York City in 1938. His singing career began after receiving a psychology degree from Cornell University. Upon graduating, he went to Greenwich Village, where he met up with Noel Stookey and Mary Travers. Albert Grossman, the trio's manager, assembled and encouraged the group.
After rehearsing for seven months, the trio was ready to make its public debut. In 1961, they performed in the Greenwich Village coffeehouse Bitter End. This eventually led to other dates in folk clubs in Chicago and San Francisco. After rousing success at the Blue Angel nightclub in New York, the group began a national tour that lasted almost 10 years.
Yarrow is known for his songwriting, sound quality and commitment to excellence. Yarrow, along with Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers, made up the popular folk group Peter, Paul and Mary. The trio produced standard '60s hits as 'Blowin' in the Wind,' 'If I Had a Hammer' and 'Puff the Magic Dragon'. Much of their music centered around the social issues and concerns of the times, including war, homelessness, the environment, world hunger, apartheid and the Sanctuary Movement.