Why Don't We Accuses Management of 'Emotional Abuse' and 'Malnourishment:' We Became 'Prisoners'

We were "hostages in our own home," the band wrote in a lengthy, emotional statement, echoing charges made in court against one manager

Why Don't We
Why Don't We. Photo: Alexander Tamargo/Getty

The boys of Why Don't We are speaking out about the abuse they allegedly faced at the hands of manager David Loeffler.

On Thursday morning, the band shared a lengthy statement, which — while not explicitly naming Loeffler — accused their management of "mental, emotional and financial abuse" and malnourishment that led to eating disorders for some members when the group was just starting out as teens. The statement, which was posted to Instagram, comes two weeks after one of their managers, Randy Phillips, sued to remove Loeffler — his business partner — from the management team.

The statement also comes weeks after the group petitioned the California Labor Commission to throw out its contract with Signature Entertainment for violating the Talent Agencies Act, according to Billboard.

"As many of you are aware, the unfortunate truth of the mental, emotional and financial abuse we have suffered at the hands of our production company has recently come to light," the group wrote, referring to a recent lawsuit in which Phillips accused Loeffler of "nightmarish behavior." "While our initial instinct was to wait for the storm to pass (as we have been conditioned to do), we have matured to the point where we now realize that suffering in silence is no longer an option, it is not healthy for either us or our fans."

Lawyers for Phillips, Loeffler and Why Don't We did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

The statement continued by saying they needed to share their truth to shine a light on the "verbal abuse, malnourishment and ultimate control" they faced as "young teens" at the "price of success."

The group — comprising Daniel Seavey, Corbyn Besson, Zach Herron, Jack Avery and Jonah Marais — then delved into how "impressionable and trusting" they were when they entered the group as teens as they began to live together under the supervision of a manager in a house where they "would eventually become prisoners."

"He would not only live with us during the day but controlled us 24/7, setting an alarm that would go off if any door or window was opened," the statement read. "We were not given the security code to the alarm, essentially making us hostages in our own home."

"Food was restricted to the point that some band members developed eating disorders," the group stated in the Instagram post. "We had to sneak food in and hide it in our dresser. We were verbally berated almost every day and alienated from our friends and families. We had no support system except for each other and were made to believe that this was 'normal,' that every artist had to pay their dues."

Why Don't We
Why Don't We. Paras Griffin/Getty

Why Don't We ended their statement by saying they will "no longer be silenced" and hope they can finally close "the chapter on this traumatic stage in our lives by turning the page to our truth."

"Our commitment remains to our music, to our label and most of all to our fans who we cherish and draw strength from as we find our way through this journey," the statement ended.

Ahead of the message from the group, fans began to rally around the hashtag #FreeWDW, referring to the group's initials after a public legal battle erupted between managers Loeffler and Phillips in mid-August.

In his derivative lawsuit, brought on behalf of the management company, Phillips seeks to remove Loeffler from his company and remove his managing ability while Loeffler is suing the members of Why Don't We for an anticipatory breath of contact and Phillips for tortious interference with a business relationship, since the boys are refusing to renew their contract with Atlantic Records, according to Billboard.

In a statement to Billboard upon the filing of Phillips' complaint, his attorney Howard King said that "Loeffler was living with [the band] at a rental property that had been secured for them to develop music," that he engaged in "nightmarish behavior," including "daily verbal abuse, screaming at them at the top of his lungs, sometimes for 10-20 minutes," and reportedly "forced the five members to share two small bedrooms, even though the house had a spare, unused bedroom that was upstairs."

Meanwhile, Why Don't We's attorney said the group supports Phillips in the lawsuit in "the same way he has supported us from the start of our careers," per Billboard.

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