Bill Maher Under Fire for 1998 Comments Condoning Sex Between 35-Year-Old Woman, 12-Year-Old Boy

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization
Bill Maher speaking at Haiti Rising gala.

Those comments have been compared to those made by Milo Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart editor, who, in an interview last year, endorsed sexual relations with boys as young as 13.

The Bill Maher and Milo Yiannopoulos story has taken another turn. 

Maher, who recently took credit for Yiannopoulos' downfall, is now the target of attacks after a video was unearthed Wednesday in which the now HBO host appeared to condone a sexual relationship between 35-year-old teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and her 12-year-old male student back in 1998. At the time, Maher hosted Politically Incorrect on ABC. 

Those comments are now in the headlines because they have been compared to those made by Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart editor, who, in a 2016 interview, appeared to endorsed sexual relations with boys as young as 13.

Because of those comments — which Yiannopoulos claimed were partly wrong and partly edited to make them worse than they were — the right-wing figure lost a chance to deliver the keynote address at this week's Conservative Political Action Conference and also lost a six-figure book deal with Simon & Schuster.

Maher's initial connection to Yiannopoulos was an invitation to be on his HBO show, Real Time, which aired last Friday. Before it even took place, a guest dropped out over Yiannopoulos. Comedian Larry Wilmore told Yiannopoulos to "Go f— yourself" during taping. 

On Wednesday, Maher told The New York Times his booking of Yiannopoulos in turn led to his downfall

"As I say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. You’re welcome," Maher told The Times. "And by the way, I wasn’t trying to get him removed from society. I’m somebody who, many times, people have tried to make go away. It just rubs me the wrong way when somebody says, 'I don’t like what this person is saying — he should go away.'"

After that interview was published, a 1998 episode of Politically Incorrect was posted on YouTube re-circulating Maher's comments about Letourneau. The video currently has more than 43,000 views. 

In the clip, Maher and his guests, which include Lisa Montgomery Kennedy, Henry Rollins, Celeste Greig and Cedric the Entertainer, discuss Letourneau, a Seattle school teacher who in the '90s was impregnated by her 12-year-old student. She later was imprisoned. 

“I admit that it’s unorthodox," Maher says in the 1998 clip. "She’s 35, the boy is 14. He was younger when they started. But she is pregnant again. That was the story this week. This is the second child by this boy. They are keeping the mother in jail because she won’t conform to what society feels should be the perfect American family." 

Greig replied the entire story was "sickening" and Letourneau "raped" the boy. 

Maher rebuffed the remark. 

“Raped? Come on," Maher says in the clip. "How do you know and how can you? How can a woman rape a man?"

Rollins interjects that he thinks "an older woman can manipulate a young kid, and I don't think it's really healthy for a kid who's going to be 14 to have two kids out in the world."  

Maher also "defends" Letourneau during a 2007 interview with Playboy when he was asked by David Sheff about punishment for an adult female who has sexual relations with a juvenile male. 

"I think it’s a little offbeat, but you know, I believe in the double standard," Maher told Playboy. "If a 28-year-old male teacher is screwing a 13-year-old girl, that’s a crime. But with Debra Lafave [another teacher who had sex with a student] screwing her 14-year-old boy student, the crime is that we didn’t get it on videotape. Was he being taken advantage of? I wish I had been taken advantage of like that. What a memory she gave him! I would think he’s a champion among his friends. Are you kidding? Even with Michael Jackson—-."

Requests for comment from HBO and Maher were not immediately returned. 

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