Ted Leo Shares a New Song and a Heartbreaking Story of Childhood Sexual Assault

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Photo: Al Pereira/WireImage

Singer-songwriter Ted Leo has not released an album since The Brutalist Bricks in 2010. Since that time, he and his wife have decamped from Brooklyn to Rhode Island, where he’s fashioned a studio in their home. That’s the place where Leo recorded most of his forthcoming album, The Hanged Man, on which he addresses the sexual assault he experienced as a child for the first time. In a new interview with Stereogum, Leo opens up about the abuse he went through, saying it first happened at the hands of a boy next door when he was just “six or seven,” and then again when he was molested by his piano teacher at age 10. That same teacher apparently had inappropriate contact with his brothers as well, and while his parents eventually found out about their experiences, fired the teacher, and moved away, Leo — who grew up in a very Catholic environment — still never let his parents know he was a victim as well. “I didn’t tell them about it,” he tells Stereogum. “I was freaked out. I was old enough to not thoroughly understand what was going on, and to know that it was weird but not why and just be a bundle of weird feelings about it. Some shame, some … I don’t know.”

Leo said he planned to tell his parents about the assault before Stereogum’s article was published, but that it would be their first time hearing the news. “I don’t want to throw my parents under the bus,” he explains. “They were young back then, much younger than I am right now, back when all of this happened. I know that they got advice, that I think I can say with 100-percent certainty — in retrospect — was bad advice.” The Hanged Man, containing Leo’s new track “You’re Like Me,” which you can stream here, is available September 8. This will be his 13th studio album.

Ted Leo Shares New Song, Heartbreaking Sexual-Assault Story