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Sam Llanas, Formerly of the Bodeans, Denies Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Darren Hauck
Getty Images
Sam Llanas, formerly of the BoDeans, at the 2010 Farm Aid concert.

A recent articlein the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel alleges that Sam Llanas, former BoDeans' band member, sexually abused Tessa Neumann, the stepdaughter of his former bandmate Kurt Neumann. 

"Tessa Neumann — the 26-year-old stepdaughter of BoDeans' frontman Kurt Neumann — says that BoDeans' co-founder and former band member Llanas repeatedly molested her and had sexual conversations with her when she was a child, from 2001 until 2006 or 2007." - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 11, 2018

As the article notes, "[Llanas] has not been charged with a crime, and Tessa Neumann has not filed a complaint with police or pursued a civil lawsuit." 

In an interview on WUWM's Lake Effect, Llanas vehemently denied the allegations, describing them as part of a wider effort by the Neumann family to derail his career in the wake of his departure from the BoDeans in 2011.

In the WUWM conversation, Llanas says he was not asked for an interview by the Journal Sentinel, though its report says the paper sent the Waukesha native "multiple emails and Facebook messages and left him voicemails and a note at his home, requesting an interview."  The article and a subsequent follow-up include allegations of sexual conversations and sexual contact through several years and in different states.

Llanas termed the allegations as "absolutely false," and says he saw no reason to talk about them until now. He says his attorney advised him against speaking because, Llanas says, "the more you say, the more you're going to keep the story alive." But, as the allegations have found their way into the court of public opinion, Llanas concedes he now feels compelled to speak.

In her conversations with Journal Sentinel reporter Piet Levy, Tessa Neumann alleges that the abuse began when she was only 9 years old and continued for years, intensifying after she turned 11. She alleges much of the abuse took place backstage or in Llanas' hotel rooms. Llanas, however, claims he did not really befriend Neumann until years later.  “Nothing of the nature they are alleging occurred," Llanas says.  "We were never together alone. Ever. She wasn't around that much, and when she was around, everybody else was around." 

As Tessa Neumann started to spend more time on the road with the band, Llanas says they became - platonic - friends.  “It was as innocent as anything could be," Llanas contends.  "We were just pals. We shared the same sense of humor.”

The Journal Sentinel's follow-up articleincludes a video, purportedly shot by Tessa Neumann, of Llanas making a crude joke about nuns performing sexual acts.  While he doesn't deny what the tape shows, Llanas insists there is nothing in the tape beyond face value - a crude joke.  "I don't know what that proves,” Llanas says.  “If I was making some sort of comment like that, she was laughing. It wasn't like she was in any kind of position where she had to be on guard or fearful of anything like that." 

Llanas says years later, as he re-evaluates their friendship, he remembers nothing that correspond to the allegations against him.  "There was never any kind of long, lingering hugs, or anything like that that could be in any way misconstrued," Llanas says.

The latter articles in the Journal Sentinel pointed to inconsistencies in Llanas' story and timeline, in the only other interview he has given since the allegations became public, speaking on Mark Belling's radio show. Llanas dismissed those inconsistencies as natural, given that the timeline being discussed is from over a decade ago.

But what motivation would Tessa Neumann have for fabricating such a story?  Llanas says he struggles to understand why she would make these allegations.  He says he reached out to her when the article first appeared. "I asked her why. Why, why, why. I got no response," says Llanas.

Llanas believes that these allegations stem from long-standing acrimony with the Neumann family, in the wake of his departure from the band and through a long-standing dispute over songwriting royalties. He sees these allegations as the culmination of the Neumanns’ efforts to attack him. 

Llanas also notes his suspicions about the timing of these allegations, as they coincided with the release of his latest album, Return of the Goya, Pt. 1, on June 15. Llanas says the Neumanns follow him "like a hawk" on Facebook.  He says he's paid a financial cost from the allegations, having lost his record promoter and through the cancellation of several planned concerts.

The Journal Sentinel accounts emerged several months after Kurt Neumann also posted an accusationagainst Llanas from the BoDeans' Facebook account, in which he stated, "Now its [sic] become clear that it’s time to bring it all to the right people. Who can really help us do something about it." To date, no lawsuits or criminal charges have reportedly been filed.

If something like this did happen to Tessa Neumann, my heart, even after all this, still goes out to her, you know, but I am not the guy who did it.

Llanas says, “This kind of thing is impossible for me to disprove. That is why they're coming with this particular kind of accusation at this particular time, I believe, especially considering that there’s no charges and I believe there will be no charges because there was no crime. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever.”

Llanas says, "If something like this did happen to Tessa Neumann, my heart, even after all this, still goes out to her, you know, but I am not the guy who did it."