During an appearance Tuesday (October 19) on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", David Ellefson opened up about his dismissal from MEGADETH five months ago, just days after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving the bassist and a woman that is not his wife were posted on Twitter. Shortly after explicit video of him emerged online, Ellefson released a statement on Instagram denying all social media chatter that he "groomed" an underage fan. He also filed a report with the police department in Scottsdale, Arizona alleging unlawful distribution of sexually explicit images of him by unknown offenders. In the report, Ellefson admitted that he had been exchanging sexual text messages with a Dutch teenager, who captured a video of several of their virtual "masturbating encounters" without his consent and shared them with friends. (According to Ellefson, the woman was 19 at the time of their first virtual sexual encounter.) Ellefson, who lives in Scottsdale, first became aware of the video on May 9, when the claim "David Ellefson of MEGADETH is a pedophile" appeared on Instagram.
Ellefson told "Trunk Nation" host Eddie Trunk that he "didn't even know what" the word "grooming" was, adding that he "had no idea" about the meaning of the term experts use to refer to the actions that sexual abusers take to get close to and gain the trust of those they are interested in. "And any allegations of anything being illegal [are false]," he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "There was nothing. And that's why I immediately hired a criminal lawyer. I went right to the police department. And just for the record, the bad guy doesn't go to the police department. Okay? So, just to be clear. The guy who didn't do anything wrong, he goes to the police department. That's why I went to the police department and filed a police report and let them deal with it.
"I think there was a big fear of — there's always this talk of cancel culture and all this stuff," he continued. "And I was, like, 'Listen, that was not me.' And I had every right to stand up against that and defend myself against it. And I just turned that over to the lawyers and police department and let them deal with it, and they did."
David also addressed his decision to step away from social media and stop doing interviews for a few months while things settled, both personally and professionally.
"Look, certainly time heals wounds in these things, which is good," he said. "And that was the thing — I was, like, look, I didn't do anything wrong; there was nothing illegal here; and you let it go. And for me to just kind of take some time away and go dark. I got off all social media. I have one Facebook account that I don't even run, just for kind of professional purposes and everything, but I'm off of that. And I think that helps."
When Trunk brought up the point that the only apparent "illegality" in this case lies with the person who actually leaked the above-mentioned video, Ellefson said: "A hundred percent. That's why I didn't hire a civil lawyer to sue people for a million bucks. I hired a criminal lawyer, and what they do is prosecute to put people in jail. 'Cause those were the crimes. You can't just go do shit like that — put stuff out there, content — and not have a penalty. That is the crime. And I think people just think they can — and not everybody; I'm not saying all people — but there is a faction that they just think that that could be just done as a joke and for fun, and it can't. Of course, it's the Internet, so people live in foreign countries; there's all this stuff. That's why the best thing, I think, is to, first of all, just get away from those platforms because that is a breeding ground for that society to do that."
Two days after MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine announced Ellefson's latest departure from the band, the bassist released a follow-up statement in which he vowed to file a "defamation lawsuit" against the person who "illegally posted a very private video" of the bassist and made "false allegations" against him. He also said he was working with the police in Scottsdale "in their investigation into charges regarding revenge pornography to be filed against the person who posted the video. This person will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Ellefson wrote.
Asked by Trunk if there are still ongoing legal proceedings in the case, Ellefson said: "It's been resolved. We took the steps necessary, walked through that process, which was necessary to do, and that's all landed and, as of now, that's fine."
David, who studied for a year at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis nearly a decade ago, also wanted to address one specific "misconception" about him that has been repeatedly raised in the months since his masturbation videos were posted online. He said: "There's a misconception that I'm a pastor. I am not a pastor. I did a year of seminary, and they made it real clear, 'If you are gonna continue at seminary, you need to quit MEGADETH,' so I quit seminary to be in MEGADETH. And I remember telling my mom that, when she was still alive — God rest her soul. I said, 'Hey, I withdrew out of seminary,' in good standing, to continue being in MEGADETH. And she was actually very disappointed. She was, like, 'You know what? MEGADETH is holding you back. That's too bad. You should have stayed in seminary.' Turns out maybe I should have listened to my mom; I don't know. [Laughs] Of course, mom wants the best for you.
"Who knows? Whatever," he continued. "I'm a rock and roller, man. I'm a founding member of MEGADETH. It's who I am. It's what I do. It's part of my life. It's part of my existence. So I have no regrets about any of that. But I think that was a misconception. People started throwing that around. And so I've never been an ordained pastor. Yes. I did explore that world for a time."
David went on to say that there is a perception that people of faith must set a higher standard of how they live with and treat others. "It's almost like you're this entity that's floating up toward the heavens: 'Oh, he's such a wonderful man. He's a man of faith. He's got his family. And then this happens.' It's, like, 'What the hell is this?'
"I mean, look, admittedly I've sort of trained the public to think that I'm one of the more well-behaved rock stars out there, and for the most part I have been," he continued. "But at the same time, and this isn't to claim anything other than just, oops, shit happens. That is what it is.
"In the season that I was away from MEGADETH, in the 2000s, I got involved in other things in church, and raising my family, and blah blah blah, these things, and so by nature, I kind of became more of a suburban homebody — the dad guy," David added. "And then I went back to MEGADETH in 2010. And the thing is to try to reconcile that you're not one guy at home and another guy on the road, that you're the same guy. And I think for anybody who spent any time on the road — whether you're a rock star, a traveling salesman or whoever you may be — that is the challenge, and it's a real challenge, to keep your life in order when every day your toothbrush is in a new zip code."
David and his wife Julie Ellefson have been married for 27 years. They have two children.