Louis C.K. on Sexual Misconduct Claims: "These Stories Are True"
The comedian released a lengthy statement after five women claimed he sexually harassed them in a New York Times exposé. Shortly after, FX, his management and publicist all severed ties with the star.
Louis C.K. has spoken out about the sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him. In a statement released Friday, the comedian and TV star said, "These stories are true."
He continued, "At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick 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 dick 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."
In a lengthy response to Thursday's New York Times exposé, sent to The Hollywood Reporter, C.K. addressed the five women who spoke out, admitting that he has tried to learn from his actions but has also run from them.
"I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position," he said in part. "I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn't want to hear it. I didn't think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it."
He added, "There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with."
C.K. specifically apologized to the people who are currently being professionally impacted by his actions, including the cast and crew of FX's Better Things and Baskets, TBS' The Cops, Amazon's One Mississippi and his newly shelved movie, I Love You, Daddy, along with his manager, 3 Arts' Dave Becky, who was mentioned in the Times story.
"I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother," he wrote. "I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen."
His comments come one day after a report in the Times detailed disturbing claims from five women who alleged that C.K. either attempted to or masturbated in front of them, either in person or over the phone. Fellow comedian and onetime C.K. friend Tig Notaro corroborated the claims made by several of the women, also confirming that the sexual assault plotline in the second season of her Amazon series One Mississippi — on which C.K. is also an executive producer — was inspired by the allegations.
Four female comedians went on the record with their claims — Chicago comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, Rebecca Corry and Abby Schachner — along with one anonymous woman identified only as a former production employee on HBO's The Chris Rock Show. All of the women's claims — of experiences that allegedly occurred from 2002 to 2005, with the anonymous claim likely taking place earlier — detail similar experiences where the TV writer, director and producer asked if the woman would watch him masturbate. In two instances, he apologized for his behavior years later, saying, "That was a bad time in my life and I’m sorry" and "I used to misread people back then," according to the women.
When contacted by the Times about the claims, C.K.'s publicist, Lewis Kay, said, "Louis is not going to answer any questions." The claims echoed similar allegations that had been made anonymously about C.K. that had long circulated, "rumors" that he had dismissed in the past. In a 2016 interview with Vulture, he said of claims that he had masturbated in front of female comics, "I don’t care about that. That’s nothing to me. That’s not real." When first approached by the Times in September, after Notaro publicly commented that C.K. should "handle" the rumors, the Louie star again said, “I’m not going to answer to that stuff, because they’re rumors. If you actually participate in a rumor, you make it bigger and you make it real.” When pressed further, C.K. said again, “They’re rumors, that’s all that is.”
In wake of Thursday's report, Netflix scrapped its planned stand-up special with the comic and his controversial new movie I Love You Daddy — which he wrote, stars in and directed — was dropped by distribution company The Orchard one week ahead of its planned Nov. 17 release. HBO also has cut ties with C.K., dropping him from an upcoming star-studded stand-up special and removed his previous specials and series from its on-demand services.
FX, where C.K. has a massive overall deal and creator credit on Pamela Adlon's Better Things and Zach Galifianakis' Baskets, said Thursday it was reviewing the situation. By Friday, shortly after C.K.'s statement, the network and production company cut its ties with the comic, cancelling the overall deal between FX Productions and his production company, Pig Newton. "He will no longer serve as executive producer or receive compensation on any of the four shows we were producing with him — Better Things, Baskets, One Mississippi and The Cops," FX said in a statement, adding that "now is not the time for him to make television shows. Now is the time for him to honestly address the women who have come forth to speak about their painful experiences, a process which he began today with his public statement."
TBS also announced Friday it was suspending production on C.K.'s upcoming animated comedy The Cops. And he was also subsequently dropped by his management company, 3 Arts, and his publicist Kay.
C.K.'s swift downfall follows in the wake of a similar response to Kevin Spacey, who was fired by Netflix and will be written out of the upcoming final season of House of Cards, the show on which he starred and executive produced, should it return from its hiatus. In an unprecedented move, and among other scrapped projects, Spacey will also be replaced by Christopher Plummer in Ridley Scott's upcoming J. Paul Getty movie All the Money in the World.
In wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, floods of women and men have come forward with their own stories of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault against Hollywood directors, executives, agents and actors, along with politicians and media executives alike.
Read C.K.'s statement in full below:
I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.
These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick 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 dick 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. And I've tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.
I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn't want to hear it. I didn't think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it.
There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.
I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work.
The hardest regret to live with is what you've done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them. I’d be remiss to exclude the hurt that I’ve brought on people who I work with and have worked with who’s professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this, including projects currently in production: the cast and crew of Better Things, Baskets, The Cops, One Mississippi, and I Love You Daddy. I deeply regret that this has brought negative attention to my manager Dave Becky who only tried to mediate a situation that I caused. I’ve brought anguish and hardship to the people at FX who have given me so much The Orchard who took a chance on my movie. and every other entity that has bet on me through the years.
I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother.
I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.
Thank you for reading.
Nov. 10, 1:50 p.m. This story has been updated with news of FX, 3 Arts and Kay severing ties with C.K.