Publisher to Alter Lena Dunham Book After Rape Story Questioned, Attorney Says
"It took the threat of litigation to make them take action," says attorney Aaron Minc
The publisher of Lena Dunham's book, Not That Kind of Girl, will tweak a passage where the star and creator of the Girls TV show describes how she was raped in college by a Republican named "Barry," an attorney for the man told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday.
Attorney Aaron Minc said he has been in contact with Dunham's lawyers at Ziffren Brittenham in Los Angeles who assure him that future printings of the book, subtitled "A young woman tells you what she's 'learned,' " will come with a disclaimer that "Barry" is not the real name of the man who raped Dunham when the two were students at Oberlin College a decade ago.
Dunham describes Barry in her book as the "campus's resident conservative" who wore cowboy boots, a mustache, hosted a radio show, worked at one of the campus libraries and graduated in December 2005. The description was detailed enough to cast a pall over a former student who has had to defend himself against Dunham's accusation that he raped her, according to Minc. His client not only fits Dunham's description, but his first name is also Barry.
Minc says he has been asking for several weeks for Dunham to absolve his client, but until he set up a legal fund and threatened a lawsuit he hadn't heard from her representatives.
"Miss Dunham and Random House are starting to come around to some of our demands," Minc said.
Random House, for example, told Minc and some reporters Monday that the person many in the press have presumed was Barry the rapist is, in fact, not the person Dunham describes.
"We are offering to pay the fees Mr. Minc has billed his client to date," Random House said, in part, according to Minc.
"I don't know if that will be good enough for my client. Ideally, we were looking for something from Miss Dunham," Minc said. "We were also looking for an edit to be made to the book, and it's my understanding that they are going to comply with that — to note that the name 'Barry' is a pseudonym. They have given me an indication that that is happening imminently."
Dunham's revelation that she was raped by a prominent college conservative was quickly seized upon by some on the political right shortly after her book was released two months ago. Why, journalists and bloggers asked, would Dunham not report a rapist to authorities? John Nolte of Breitbart.com then wrote a 4,400-word piece claiming to debunk Dunham's allegation, and the story was widely circulated, especially after it was linked at the Drudge Report.
"After a month-long investigation that included more than a dozen interviews, a trip to the Oberlin campus, and hours spent poring through the Oberlin College archives, her description of the campus remains the only detail Breitbart News was able to verify in Dunham's story of being raped by a campus Republican named Barry," Nolte says in his article.
Dunham's representatives had no comment for this report.
"We're not on a warpath," Minc said. "We've been trying to get their attention for months. It took the threat of litigation to make them take action. We have certainly intimated that we think our client is being libeled, but we've been trying to be as reasonable as possible. The remedy to solve this issue is not necessarily legal in nature, and we recognize that. A lot of the suffering Barry was going through and was about to go through could be cured by simple, remedial action from Miss Dunham and Random House."