Megadeth have officially parted ways with bassist David Ellefson following the leak of sexually graphic exchanges between Ellefson and a female fan.

“We are informing our fans that David Ellefson is no longer playing with Megadeth and that we are officially parting ways with him," band leader Dave Mustaine wrote in a statement shared on social media Monday. "We do not take this decision lightly.”

“While we do not know every detail of what occurred, with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible moving forward,” Mustaine continued. “We look forward to seeing our fans on the road this summer, and we cannot wait to share our brand new music with the world. It is almost complete.”

You can see the full statement below.

Earlier this month, sexually explicit messages and video footage involving Ellefson and a woman who is not his wife were leaked online. The female’s identity was not revealed, but she was rumored to be underage, leading to accusations of grooming against the 56-year-old Ellefson.

Ellefson denied the allegations and released a statement in which he referred to the leaked exchanges as “private, adult interactions that were taken out of context and manipulated to inflict maximum damage to my reputation my career and family."

The bassist paired his statement with a post that appeared to be from the woman involved in the exchange, who claimed that she “was the one to initiate” the video calls and “was always a consenting adult” when they took place. She added that she was “not a victim, and I have not been groomed in the slightest.”

"We are aware of the recent statements regarding David Ellefson and are watching developments closely,” Megadeth said in a statement immediately following the leaks. "As it relates to creativity and business, we are all familiar with one another. However, there are clearly aspects of David's private life that he has kept to himself. As this situation unfolds, it is important that all voices be heard clearly and respectfully. We look forward to the truth coming to light."

Ellefson cofounded Megadeth with Mustaine in 1983 and spent the second-longest amount of time in the band behind Mustaine. His first tenure lasted from 1983 to 2002, when Mustaine disbanded the group. Ellefson rejoined the band in 2010 and has played on all subsequent Megadeth albums.

Megadeth will have to fill Ellefson’s position quickly, as they are set to embark on their rescheduled Metal Tour of the Year in August. Lamb of God will co-headline the trek, with support from Trivium and In Flames.

Former Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler played on Megadeth’s last album, 2016’s Dystopia. The band is reportedly nearly finished with its next LP, tentatively titled The Sick, the Dying … and the Dead!

 

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