NEW YORK – Disgraced and facing financial and professional fallout over allegations of sexual misconduct, comedian Louis C.K. issued a statement Friday in which he acknowledged accounts of him masturbating in front of colleagues are true and expressed remorse for wielding his influence “irresponsibly.”
The comedian said the harassment claims by five women detailed in a New York Times report published Thursday “are true” and that he “can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them.”
“There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for,” he wrote. ” And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.”
He apologized to the cast and crew of several projects he’s been working on, his family, children and friends, his manager and the FX network, among others.
The 438-word statement ends with the comedian vowing to stop talking and leave the spotlight, sating “I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”
The comedian stepped forward on the same day the indie distributor The Orchard said it will scrap the release of C.K.’s film I Love You, Daddy. C.K. has already been edited out of the upcoming HBO benefit “Night of Too Many Stars” and his work is being scrubbed from the cable network’s vaults.
More fallout came Friday when Netflix said it will not produce a second planned standup special starring the comedian, citing his “unprofessional and inappropriate behaviour.” He had been tapped for two specials, with the first airing in April. At least five of the comedian’s stand-up specials remain on Netflix.
WATCH: ‘I Love You, Daddy’ trailer draws uncomfortable parallels to issues confronting Hollywood
C.K. is the latest high-profile man caught in a flood of accusations that began after an October report in the New York Times alleging that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed or assaulted several women. Others who face sexual harassment or assault accusations include “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey and filmmaker Brett Ratner.
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 (penis) 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 (penis) 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 (sic) 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 (sic). 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.
The widening allegations have also reached former “Gossip Girl” actor Ed Westwick. The BBC scrapped a TV series in the wake of rape allegations against Westwick. The broadcaster also paused filming on the 1980s-set sitcom “White Gold,” which stars Westwick. He has been accused of raping two women, charges he denies. On Instagram, he called the allegations “unverified and provably untrue.”
Actor Jeremy Piven also took to social media to once again declare his innocence of sexual misconduct, saying on Twitter he hopes the string of sexual harassment allegations will lead to “a constructive dialogue on these issues” but warned about “false accusations.”
“We seem to be entering dark times – allegations are being printed as facts and lives are being put in jeopardy without a hearing, due process or evidence. I hope we can give people the benefit of the doubt before we rush to judgment,” he wrote.
Piven, who has been accused by two women of sexual misconduct, faces a fresh accusation made against him from an advertising executive. Tiffany Bacon Scourby told People magazine that Piven held her down while he performed a sex act at a hotel 14 years ago.
Jenny McCarthy also reiterated an allegation she made against Seagal, saying she fled from a 1995 audition with Seagal after he repeatedly asked her to take off her clothes for a part that didn’t require nudity.
The former Playboy model recounted her encounter with Seagal during a tryout for “Under Siege 2” on her Sirius XM radio show Thursday, a day after actress Portia de Rossi accused Seagal of unzipping his pants during an audition.
McCarthy said Seagal was the only person in the room when she showed up to read for her part, she said. After declining his invitation to sit next to him on a couch, McCarthy, who said she purposefully wore a loose-fitting garment to the audition so the focus would be on her acting instead of her body, said Seagal asked her to remove her clothes. When McCarthy countered that she was told the part didn’t require her to be naked, she said Seagal told her that it involved “off-camera nudity.”
“I know you must have a beautiful body underneath there. Can you lower it so I can see your breasts,” she recalled Seagal saying.
A representative for Seagal didn’t immediately return a request for comment Friday, but a Seagal spokesman has denied McCarthy’s accusations to The Daily Beast. McCarthy told the same story to Movieline in 1998.
Associated Press writer Patrick Mairs in Philadelphia contributed to this report.