Comedian Louis C.K. released a statement on Friday in response to five women accusing him of sexual harassment: “These stories are true.”
Alarm bells started to go off regarding the comedian when an appearance on Stephen Colbert and his latest Netflix movie, “I Love You Daddy,” suddenly got pulled.
Netflix provide a statement that addressed the allegations and the status of Louis C.K.’s current production: “Louis’s unprofessional and inappropriate behavior with female colleagues has led us to decide not to produce a second stand-up special, as had been planned.”
The allegations chronicled in an exposé from The New York Times dated back to a 2002 encounter with comedy team Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov. After the U.S. Comedy Arts festival, the duo went back to C.K.’s Aspen hotel room, since there were no bars open that late, to celebrate the show. What happened next would scar the two women permanently. Before they even took off their winter coats and hats, C.K. first requested to expose himself. Thinking it was a raunchy joke, they started to giggle — until he actually went through with the act and took off all his clothes and started masturbating.
Over the next decade several other indecent incidents called into question the comedian’s apparent championing of careers for women in comedy, according to The Times. Just a year later, Abby Schachner, while talking to him on the phone about her upcoming show, realized he was pleasuring himself on the other end. When she confronted him about it, he apologized profusely. But as Schachner recounted the apology, she recalled to The Times that “the apology left me deeply dispirited and discouraged me from pursuing comedy.”
In 2005 while shooting a television pilot with C.K., Rebecca Corry recalled to The Times advances made by him, including him asking her if they could go to her dressing room and he could masturbate in front of her. She declined the invitation but was appalled by his behavior and still is affected by the run-in.
A fifth and anonymous woman who worked in production at the “Chris Rock Show” in the late ‘90s with C.K. recounted to The Times that C.K. asked several times if he could masturbate in front of her in his office with co-workers right outside the door. She realized that was inappropriate, but as a woman in her early 20s and just starting out, she succumbed to the power he held over her career.
Goodman and Wolov, after the 2002 incident, began telling others about C.K.’s disgusting encounter so that colleagues would know about his behavior and he would be shamed. However, the backlash from males in the industry, along with C.K.’s manager, told another story about how men in the industry would react to such accusations. When Goodman and Wolov’s manager reached out to C.K.’s manager, Dave Becky, about his atrocious behavior, he ordered them to stop discussing the matter. As one of the most powerful figures in the comedy industry, representing Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Amy Poehler and other big name comedians, Becky had the upper hand in the situation. The women’s careers have been more challenging since the incident, knowing that Becky would never promote their work.
Many stars in the comedy industry have spoken out against C.K. The man who made George Castanza a household name, Jason Alexander of “Seinfeld fame,” spoke to all men in the industry tweeting, “Gentlemen, comedy is often inappropriate. It is sometimes daring and audacious and shocking. But our behavior, in the real world, toward women – that doesn’t get a pass on inappropriate.”
A day after the allegations were released by The New York Times, C.K. admitted the allegations were true.
He went on to express his regret and added, “At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my d*ck without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d*ck isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly. I have been remorseful of my actions.”