Elton John hits back at sexual harassment claims

Singer Elton John performing at a benefit concert for US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New York on March 2.
Singer Elton John performing at a benefit concert for US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New York on March 2. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Elton John on Tuesday (March 29) dismissed as "patently untrue" claims made by a former bodyguard who said he was repeatedly groped and sexually harassed by the singer.

The flamboyant singer's lawyer Orin Snyder said the accusations by decorated police officer Jeffrey Wenninger were "baseless" and brought by a "disgruntled former security officer seeking to extract an undeserved payment". "These claims are patently untrue and contradicted by numerous previous statements made by this plaintiff. We will not give in to his latest abuse of the legal system."

Mr Wenninger claims the pop icon groped him during a series of attacks that escalated "in frequency and intensity" from 2010, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday at the Los Angeles Superior Court.

In the lawsuit, he describes three alleged sex assaults during car journeys to or from John's Los Angeles home in 2014.

During one alleged incident of "unwelcome and offensive touching and groping", John told Mr Wenniger to "get your todger out" and "say hello to Uncle Elton", according to the lawsuit.

On a separate occasion the 69-year-old is alleged to have told the bodyguard: "You have so many gay genes in you, they just haven't met up yet."

Mr Wenninger, a police captain who reportedly worked for John until 2014, was awarded the LAPD's Medal of Valor in 2007 for being among a group of officers who rescued 80 senior citizens from a burning retirement home.

He is seeking unspecified damages from the veteran pianist for "battery, sexual battery and sexual harassment", according to the lawsuit.

John, whose latest record, Wonderful Crazy Night, came out in February, has sold over 250 million albums worldwide, making him one of the most successful musicians in history.

After well-publicised struggles with addiction and eating disorders, he became the proud father of two sons and in 2014 married his longtime partner David Furnish after Britain legalised gay marriage.

He said in a recent interview he had found "an uplifting tail-end to my life" and had "never been happier". "I never, ever expected to find fatherhood so joyous. I expected to enjoy it, but not to be so joyous," he told Britain's Press Association.