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Lawyers representing Lena Dunham have sent a letter demanding a conservative organization apologize for a story that infers the entertainer sexually molested her little sister when they were children.
The four-page letter, obtained exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter, also threatens to sue the organization, called Truth Revolt, for “millions of dollars” because its story, widely disseminated once it was linked at the Drudge Report, damaged Dunham’s reputation.
Last week, Truth Revolt published an article quoting Dunham’s book, Not That Kind of Girl, where she says that when she was 7 she “leaned down between” the legs of her 1-year-old sister “and carefully spread open her vagina.”
Also relying on passages from the book, the Truth Revolt article stated: “Dunham describes experimenting sexually with her younger sister Grace, whom she says she attempted to persuade to kiss her using ‘anything a sexual predator might do.’ “
“The story is false, fabricated, and has the obvious tendency to subject my client to ridicule, and to injure her in her occupation,” attorney Charles Harder wrote in his letter to Truth Revolt.
Truth Revolt has been roughly described as a conservative version of Media Matters for America and is run by talk-radio host and writer Ben Shapiro, perhaps best known in Hollywood for his release of audio recordings he says prove many in the TV industry are hostile to conservatives and insert liberal messages into their programming. Truth Revolt is a project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the letter from Harder was sent to both Shapiro and David Horowitz, as well as their attorneys.
Contacted by phone, Shapiro had no comment on what he called the “cease and desist” letter, though he has written about it at the Truth Revolt website.
“We refuse to withdraw our story or apologize for running it, because quoting a woman’s book does not constitute a ‘false’ story, even if she is a prominent actress and left-wing activist,” Shapiro wrote. “Lena Dunham may not like our interpretation of her book, but unfortunately for her and her attorneys, she wrote that book — and the First Amendment covers a good deal of material she may not like.”
Harder and other representatives for Dunham did not return calls for comment.
In his letter, Harder demands Shapiro and Horowitz “immediately print a prominent public apology and retraction at all media whereat you published the story.” He also suggests the text of such an apology: “We recently published a story stating that Ms. Dunham engaged in sexual conduct with her sister. The story was false, and we deeply regret having printed it. We apologize to Ms. Dunham, her sister, and their parents, for this false report.”
The letter says that remedies to Dunham include “actual damages to her personal and professional reputation which likely would be calculated in the millions of dollars; punitive damages which can be a multiple of up to ten times actual damages; and injunctive relief.”
The letter also says that the Truth Revolt story contains “outright falsified statements” that are attributed to Dunham and her book.
“The statements do not appear anywhere in the book, thus showing intent to harm, knowing falsity as well as reckless disregard for the truth, any one of which meets the malice requirement.”