Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET
After five female comics accused Louis C.K. of inappropriate behavior involving masturbation, the comedian has admitted that the “stories are true.”
C.K. expressed remorse and said he used his power “irresponsibly.” His statement, and other elements of this post, contain language some may find offensive.
In the statement released by his publicist, C.K. said in part: “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.”
Rumors have long swirled in the comedy community that C.K. had a pattern of masturbating in front of women who were spending time with him in a professional context, including on sets or otherwise in the workplace.
On Thursday, The New York Times ran a story that took the allegations out of the world of blind items and gossip blogs and transformed it into a major story with multiple named sources.
Two comics said C.K. asked to masturbate in front of them after a comedy festival, which they thought was a joke — but then he did it. Another comedian said C.K. asked to masturbate in front of her and, after she rebuffed him, said he had “issues.” One woman said she heard him masturbating on the phone after she called to invite him to a show of hers; another woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she agreed to watch him masturbate in his office while he was a producer on a TV show where she worked.
C.K.’s statement, released by his publicist, reads in full:
“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.”
HBO cut ties with C.K. last night, after the story broke. The distributor of his upcoming film, I Love You, Daddy, has canceled its release, as Deadline reported Friday morning. The movie was slated to come out next week — and, as reviewers noted, contained scenes in which a character mimed masturbation in front of other people. The film’s future is unclear, Deadline writes.
Reaction to C.K.’s statement was swift.
Several women named in the story responded on Twitter, at least obliquely, to C.K.’s stated (and self-admittedly inadequate) defense that he “asked” before masturbating.
“You asked but we never said yes,” tweeted the account of comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov.
And Rebecca Corry, who said no when C.K. asked if she would watch him masturbate, retweeted comedy writer Katie Rich’s response, “If a woman wants to see your penis she will tell you.”