- Associated Press - Friday, November 5, 2010

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A man who produces two of New Orleans’ largest music festivals was arrested Friday on a rape charge, but his lawyer says he has been falsely accused.

Stephen Rehage, founder and producer of Voodoo Fest and producer of the Essence Music Festival, was freed on $10,000 bond after he surrendered to police.

Rehage is accused of raping a woman he went on a date with in June, according to a police report.

His attorney, Pat Fanning, called the allegation false.

Stephen Rehage has been a prominent member of the New Orleans business community for many years. His reputation has been unblemished and he has been involved in numerous charitable activities,” Fanning said in a statement. “It is his intention to vigorously defend himself against these unfounded allegations, and he is confident that when this matter is concluded he will be vindicated.”

This year’s installment of Voodoo Fest wrapped up Sunday after featuring performances by Ozzy Osbourne, Muse and My Morning Jacket. Rehage, who turns 47 on Saturday, launched the festival in 1999. His company also took over production of the Essence Music Festival in 2008.

Rehage’s accuser told police she met him for drinks at a New Orleans restaurant on June 21, then went to a party at a different restaurant, where she continued drinking cocktails. The woman said she apparently “blacked out” during the party.

“Her next recollection was being awakened in a bed naked and disoriented,” with Rehage on top of her, choking her, the police report says.

The woman said Rehage let go of her neck after she gasped for air and whispered for him to stop, but she told police she blacked out again. When she awoke, she called several friends and relatives for help.

Police were summoned to Rehage’s residence and took her home, but the woman didn’t immediately report the alleged assault, according to the police report. Police started investigating on July 26, when a detective interviewed her at a hospital.

Fanning said Rehage and his accuser had consensual sex. The woman had a boyfriend who called police after she told him about the encounter, Fanning said.

Fanning also said his client’s version of events is supported by text messages he and the woman exchanged three days after the alleged assault.

“I was just thinking about you, hoping that ur OK (and that our vodka drinking didn’t cause u too much grief),” Rehage wrote, according to Fanning.

“Ha, ha. No I’m fine! Thanks for checking on me,” she responded, according to the lawyer.

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