Scene Magazine owner accused of sexual harassment

Julia Trowbridge

photo of magazine cover
Scene Magazine covers the local music and art scene in the Northern Colorado area. Members of the music community have voiced allegations of sexual harassment against the owner of the magazine, Michael Mockler. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

After accusations of sexual harassment and assault emerged about various celebrities and politicians, the music community in Fort Collins brought forward allegations of sexual harassment by Michael Mockler, the owner of  Scene Magazine.

Local musician Magic Cyclops wrote in a Facebook post about witnessing Mockler sexually harassing women, and more men and women have shared their stories of witnessing or being the victim of sexual harassment from Mockler. Based on the attention the accusations have received, the future of Scene Magazine remains unclear, but a December issue is planned for publishing.

Ad

“We should be asking ourselves why it took so long for anyone to speak publicly about Mike’s behavior,” said Ben Prytherch, a local musician for Mama Lenny and the Remedy in Fort Collins. “(Mockler’s) had a reputation for being a guy to stay away from for a long time.”

Magic Cyclops, who asked that his real name not be published, posted the accusation of Mockler’s general behavior on Facebook because he wanted to see change. According to a couple of people who have been in the music community in Fort Collins, who preferred not to be named, Mockler’s been involved in the music scene and acting inappropriately for around 20 years.

“(I spoke out) because I got sick after decades of his behavior of not saying anything,” Magic Cyclops wrote in an email to the Collegian. “By not saying anything, it’s like giving him a pass to say it. It’s also just as important for men to hold men accountable for their actions because it affects us as well.”

Mockler, who is assumed to be around 55-65 years old, has been known to take interest in young women and has been accused of using his magazine to make the women he employed uncomfortable through inappropriate comments. Although the voiced accusations of sexual harassment come from previous employees, most stories of Mockler’s sexual harassment include catcalling and slapping women’s behinds.

“His behavior will never change,” said Eric, a local musician who has interacted with Mockler for since 2004 and asked that his last name not be published. “I’ve seen women slap his hand away and men yell at him in bars, pulling their girlfriends away. I’m glad this finally came to light.”

Lisa Thornton, a former freelance journalist at Scene Magazine, said the main issue she had was when Mockler insisted her boyfriend could not join them when he asked her out for a drink. Thornton said the incident and Mockler’s reputation made her feel uncomfortable enough that she never wanted to see him in person and her only form of contact ended up being through email.

“What makes this different is that he’s in a position of power in the town,” Thornton said. “I shudder to think of how many people were turned off from writing because of this man. That part makes me angry.”

Mary Willson, a former social media editor and assignment editor for Scene Magazine, was hired by Scene Magazine when she was 19-years-old. 

Willson wrote in an article published online in 2015 that Mockler acted unprofessionally in the office — he would smoke and drink, made fun of her for staying sober, and praised her attractiveness.

“The reason I wrote the article initially was because, like a lot of young people, I had rose-colored glasses on at the beginning of the year,” Willson said. “I had heard things about Mockler, but I took the job to further my career.”

Ad

I had heard things about Mockler, but I took the job to further my career.” Mary Willson, former social media editor and assignment editor for Scene Magazine

Another woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said Mockler took photos of her while she was in the bathroom at a party Mockler attended.

The woman said that when she went to use the restroom, Mockler followed her, but she did not notice him until she saw him looking over the stall door taking pictures of her with his cell phone.

The woman said Mockler laughed and ran away when he realized she saw him, but she was able to grab his phone and delete the photos before leaving.

“It was a horrible violation,” she said. “And, you feel powerless. What was I supposed to do? I’m literally sitting on the toilet. It happened so fast, and I couldn’t get up and get out in that moment.”

Mockler could not be reached for a comment, despite various attempts to reach him, including email, phone call, visiting his office and messaging him through Facebook.

Although Mockler could not be reached for comment, he was active in the Facebook thread started by Magic Cyclops. His initial responses consisted of reasonings for his actions.

“The thing about we humans is that we like to (f*ck),” Mockler wrote in a Facebook comment. “… This is who we are as a sexual society.”

Mockler later issued an apology.

“I can readily admit that on some occasions I may have not been politically correct or as sensitive to circumstance as I should have been,” Mockler wrote. “My bad! I also can say that my intention has never been to subjugate, harass or with malice and forethought demean anyone in anyway, shape or form. Everything is open to individual interpretation, conjecture and personal perception those are the realities.”

Mockler later wrote that women were discomforted and intimidated by his large stature and addressed other commenters in the thread.

Mockler wrote that Willson was entitled, “I recently reached out to her father to try to control the symptoms of her illness, with no avail.”  

According to Jake Johnson, who handles distribution at Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation, RMSMC does not distribute Scene Magazine, but it shares rack space with other student RMSMC publications like the Collegian.

President CEO of RMSMC Peter Waack said he is not going to discontinue allowing the magazine to share rack space, but he would if students said they were uncomfortable with the distribution.

“Scene Magazine is bigger than Mockler,” Waack said. “The entity and outlet is different than the publisher. I don’t see any reason to remove it.”

Mockler left for Mexico on the morning of Nov. 25 wrote Alma Blackburn on Magic Cyclops’ Facebook thread. Blackburn, who manages the distribution and circulation of the magazine, wrote that she is unsure when Mockler will return.

“I hope he has to deal with the consequences of his actions,” Eric said. “I personally would love to see the magazine ran by the people actually running it. The initial idea of the magazine was to promote music and arts in Northern Colorado, and it could really be done well if run by a different person.”

Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @chapin_jules.