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Louis C.K. Accused of Engaging in Sexual Misconduct With Five Women

SNL Louis CK April 2017 The Chainsmokers
NBC

This afternoon, the New York premiere of Louis C.K.’s upcoming film I Love You, Daddy was canceled amid reports that the New York Times was on the verge of publishing a major story about the comedian. That story is, as many suspected, a damning exposé on C.K.’s history of alleged sexual misconduct. Five women went on the record with the Times to share stories of uncomfortable encounters with C.K., the oldest of which dates back to the late ’90s.

The Times report appears to confirm — even on an alleged basis — rumors that have swirled about C.K.’s predatory behavior for years. Those rumors were revived on comedian Jen Kirkman’s podcast in 2015, when she spoke of a fellow comic whose inappropriate behavior toward her made the prospect of touring with him “difficult.” Although Kirkman did not reveal the comic’s name, her story led many to believe she was talking about C.K. — as some had previously speculated that the comedian and creator of Louie was the culprit in a Gawker blind item about a male comic who forced younger female comedians to watch him masturbate.

Five women spoke to the Times about their experiences with C.K., whose upcoming film has drawn curious attention for, among other things, featuring a scene in which a character pretends to masturbate in front of other people for an extended period of time — a scene which some feel hits a little too close to home, despite C.K.’s insistence to the contrary and his refusal to address rumors of his own similar behavior.

A woman who asked to remain anonymous told the Times that she worked with C.K. on The Chris Rock Show in the late ’90s and that, on numerous occasions, the comedian asked if he could masturbate in front of her. The woman, then in her early 20s, says that she initially permitted C.K. to do so, but “It was something that I knew was wrong.” Looking back on the incidents, she says C.K. “abused his power.” She thinks she said yes “because of the culture.”

Chicago comedic duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov have also accused C.K. of sexual misconduct. In 2002, after a show, C.K. invited the pair to his hotel room for a drink. According to Goodman and Wolov, C.K. immediately asked if he could take his penis out of his pants. “And then he really did it,” Goodman says. “He proceeded to take all of his clothes off, and get completely naked, and started masturbating.” Not long after the incident, Wolov and Goodman’s managers were contacted by C.K.’s manager, Dave Becky. According to Wolov and Goodman’s managers, it seemed that Becky “was upset that the women were talking openly about the incident.”

Comedian Abby Schachner says she called C.K. in 2003 to invite him to one of her upcoming shows. Schachner says he began detailing his sexual fantasies and she could hear that he was masturbating as he spoke on the phone. Six years later, in 2009, Schachner received an apology from C.K. via Facebook:

“Last time I talked to you ended in a sordid fashion,” he wrote in the message, which was reviewed by The Times. “That was a bad time in my life and I’m sorry.” He added that he had seen some of Ms. Schachner’s comedy and thought she was funny. “I remember thinking what a repulsive person I was being by responding the way that I did,” he wrote.

In 2005, comedian Rebecca Corry was appearing with C.K. in a TV pilot. As with the other allegations, Corry recalls C.K. asking if he could masturbate in front of her. Corry describes the encounter in a written statement to the Times:

“He leaned close to my face and said, ‘Can I ask you something?’ I said, ‘Yes,’” Ms. Corry said in a written statement to The New York Times. “He asked if we could go to my dressing room so he could masturbate in front of me.” Stunned and angry, Ms. Corry said she declined, and pointed out that he had a daughter and a pregnant wife. “His face got red,” she recalled, “and he told me he had issues.”

Courteney Cox and David Arquette produced the pilot, and both confirmed that they both heard about Corry’s experience shortly after it occurred. In an email to the Times, Cox said she felt “outrage and shock” upon initially learning about C.K.’s misconduct. “What happened to Rebecca on that set was awful,” Cox adds. Corry says she received an email from C.K. in 2015, in which he said he owed her a “very very very late apology.” But when C.K. called her, Corry says he apologized for “shoving her in a bathroom,” which never happened.

After Corry explained this to C.K. and told him what actually happened, she says he acknowledged masturbating in front of her and said, “I used to misread people back then” — essentially shifting the blame to Corry, in some part.

When reached by the Times for comment, C.K.’s agent, Lewis Kay said, “Louis is not going to answer any questions.”

Back in September, in an interview with the Village Voice, Jen Kirkman clarified that the comments she made on the now-deleted episode of her podcast were not about C.K. “If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, and if any women want to come forward and say what he’s done, I’ll totally back them, because I believe women,” Kirkman said at the time. “But I just don’t know any.” That may be true, but it’s not the case for another female comedian and colleague of C.K.: Tig Notaro.

C.K. released Notaro’s acclaimed 2012 stand-up album and is an executive producer on her Amazon series, One Mississippi. In a Season 2 episode, a young woman is forced to watch her boss masturbate at work; many viewers suspected the scene was thinly-veiled criticism of C.K., which Notaro now confirms. The revelation sheds some potentially unsavory light on accusations that C.K. had plagiarized one of Notaro’s comedy concepts for his digital short on SNL.

C.K. has built his career, in part, on being a feminist comedian, but Notaro worries that he only released her album “to cover his tracks,” and that “He knew it was going to make him look like a good guy, supporting a woman.” Wolov and Goodman shared their story with Notaro, who says, “Louis C.K.’s victims are not only real, but many are actual friends of mine within the comedy community.”

I Love You, Daddy, the film which C.K. made in secret over the summer and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September, was acquired for distribution by The Orchard. The black-and-white film is inspired by Woody Allen — both professionally and personally. C.K. plays a writer trying to prevent his teenage daughter from having a romantic relationship with an eccentric male director in his 60s (John Malkovich).

In the wake of the Times report, the release of I Love You, Daddy is now in question. In a statement to The Wrap, a representative for The Orchard said, “There is never a place for the behavior detailed in these allegations. As a result, we are giving careful consideration to the timing and release of the film and continuing to review the situation.”

A few minutes after the Times story dropped, I emailed a local publicity representative for The Orchard here in Austin to ask if they still intended on sending out the screener links they offered to press yesterday afternoon. “We are still scheduled to release in Austin on November 22,” the rep replied, adding that screening links would be arriving “soon.”

Update: On Friday morning, The Orchard said in a statement to the Times (shared via Twitter) that the company was not moving forward with the release of I Love You, Daddy.

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