Mexico rocker, hit by sexual harassment accusation, dies in apparent suicide

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - A Mexican rock star was found dead on Monday (April 1) after tweeting that he planned to kill himself in a "radical declaration of innocence" after being accused of sexual harassment.

Armando Vega Gil, 63, bassist for veteran rock band Botellita de Jerez (Little Bottle Of Sherry), died early on Monday, the group said.

A prosecution source confirmed Vega was found dead at his Mexico City home.

His death poured new fuel on a fiery debate over #MeToo in Mexico. The movement has triggered a flood of accusations against journalists, academics and writers in recent weeks.

Vega tweeted shortly before his death, saying he was taking his own life in reaction to an anonymous accusation that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl more than a decade ago.

The accusation was made the previous night on the Twitter account @MeTooMusicaMX, part of Mexico's nascent but increasingly powerful #MeToo movement.

"I categorically deny this accusation," tweeted Vega, who was also an award-winning poet and writer. He feared the accusation would end his career, and that he would not be able to defend himself on social media, where "anything I say will be used against me".

He wanted to spare his eight-year-old son from "suffering the effects of this false accusation". "I must clarify that my death is not a confession of guilt. On the contrary, it is a radical declaration of innocence," he said.

His accuser said he befriended the girl some 13 years ago, when she was a 13-year-old aspiring musician and he was 50.

She said he invited her to his home and made a series of unwanted sexual advances, including telling her he wanted to teach her how to kiss.

She ultimately severed ties with him.

"I'm sure I'm not the only one. It terrifies me to know that other people probably weren't as lucky as me and fell into his perverse trap," she wrote.

Vega's death is not the first time the #MeToo movement has been linked to the suicide of someone accused.

Other cases include prominent Swedish theatre director Benny Fredriksson, who took his own life in March 2018 after being accused of sexual misconduct and bullying.

Hollywood producer Jill Messick took her own life in February 2018 after being accused of enabling producer Harvey Weinstein's aggressive behaviour, including arranging a meeting where he allegedly raped actress Rose McGowan.