Louis C.K is the latest high-profile entertainment figure to be publicly accused of sexual misconduct.
Two women have gone on the record and alleged that he masturbated in front of them without their consent, the New York Times reported (paywall). A third woman said that the comedian asked if he could masturbate in front of her, but she declined. A fourth woman said that she believed C.K. was masturbating while on the phone with her. A fifth woman anonymously accused the comedian of masturbating in front of her, which she said she allowed at the time because of the comedy world’s lewd culture.
The celebrated standup, writer and producer may be the most beloved celebrity ensnared in the wave of sexual misconduct allegations that began last month with Harvey Weinstein. Here’s what we know so far:
What the women say he did
All of the alleged incidents took place more than a decade ago, the Times reported today (Nov. 9). Among the the most disturbing is an instance said to have occurred between C.K. and comedians Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov:
In 2002, a Chicago comedy duo, Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, landed their big break: a chance to perform at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo. When Louis C.K. invited them to hang out in his hotel room for a nightcap after their late-night show, they did not think twice. The bars were closed and they wanted to celebrate. He was a comedian they admired. The women would be together. His intentions seemed collegial.
As soon as they sat down in his room, still wrapped in their winter jackets and hats, Louis C.K. asked if he could take out his penis, the women said.
They thought it was a joke and laughed it off. “And then he really did it,” Ms. Goodman said in an interview with The New York Times. “He proceeded to take all of his clothes off, and get completely naked, and started masturbating.”
Goodman and Wolov also allege that the comedian’s manager, Dave Becky, became “upset” when he discovered the women were talking openly about the incident and wanted them to stop. The women “feared career repercussions,” the Times reported.
The other alleged incidents paint a disturbing pattern:
- In the late 1990s, a woman—who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity—alleged that Louis C.K. repeatedly asked to masturbate in front of her while both worked on The Chris Rock Show. The woman, in her early 20s at the time, permitted his request but later came to believe it was an insidious abuse of his power in the comedy world. She told the Times she sat in the comedian’s office, with colleagues outside the door, as he masturbated.
- In 2003, another comedian, Abby Schachner, called C.K. to invite him to one of her shows. During the call, she said, she could hear him masturbating. Schachner said that he messaged her on Facebook six years later to apologize, but the incident by then had “discouraged her from pursuing comedy.”
- And in 2005, comedian Rebecca Corry was working on a TV pilot with C.K. when he asked if he could masturbate in front of her, she alleged. She declined, and the incident was corroborated to the Times by the show’s producers, actors Courteney Cox and David Arquette.
The rumors that preceded the story
The Times report includes the first on-the-record accusations against Louis C.K. following years of rumors about his sexual conduct—specifically about his alleged desire to masturbate in front of women. In 2012, Gawker ran a blind item alleging that an unnamed male comedian had masturbated in front of two women at the Aspen Comedy Festival some years prior—the site of the alleged 2002 incident.
Three years later, Gawker reported that C.K. expressed a desire to an anonymous tipster via email that he wanted to discuss the allegations with him.
The rumors resurfaced again in August when comedian Tig Notaro, who’s worked with C.K., said she was distancing herself from him, citing the longstanding rumors of sexual misconduct.
The aftermath of the Times report
Louis C.K. was contacted by the Times but declined to address the allegations. Becky, who also manages a stable of prominent comedians like Amy Poehler and Kevin Hart, denied threatening any of the women.
Already, the allegations have had tangible effects. The New York premiere of C.K.’s new film, I Love You, Daddy was abruptly cancelled just before the Times report was published. Now, the release plan for the film is “under review,” Variety reported.
Quartz has reached out to both Becky and Louis C.K.’s publicist for additional comment.