UPDATE: HBO has dropped Louis C.K. from its Night of too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs comedy benefit, The New York Times reports. The network announced on Thursday night that Louis C.K. would “no longer be participating” in the event, which is scheduled to air on November 18th, following allegations of sexual misconduct that the newspaper reported earlier in the day.
Additionally, FX, which airs the comedian’s Louie series said it was “very troubled” by the allegations and told The New York Times that the network was reviewing the matter and added that it had “received no allegations of misconduct by Louis C.K.” on any of the five shows it has collaborated on with the comedian over the the past eight years.
Multiple women have accused Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct with claims that vary from the comedian masturbating in front of them to pleasuring himself during a phone call with a female comic, all without consent. The New York Times has compiled the stories of five women spanning several years. The comedian and his publicist both denied the paper’s request for comment prior to the article’s publication.
The first accusation dates back to 2002, when comedians Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov said C.K. invited them to his hotel room in Aspen, Colorado, where they’d been performing at a comedy festival. He then allegedly removed all of his clothes and began masturbating. The duo claim they first thought it was a joke before feeling paralyzed and holding each other. As they ran out of the room, they claim, the women recall C.K. calling out, “Which one is Dana and which one is Julia?” The women said they later felt intimidated by C.K.’s manager, Dave Becky, who also manages Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari and Amy Poehler, saying that he’d contacted their manager to say he was upset about them talking about the incident. Becky denied threatening anyone to The New York Times.
A rep for C.K. did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
The following year, writer and illustrator Abby Schachner phoned up the comedian to invite him to her show. Over the line, she says, she could hear him drawing the blinds in the office where he was writing for Cedric the Entertainer Presents and allegedly proceeded to masturbate, speaking quietly, breathing heavily and sharing sexual thoughts. The call went on for several minutes and afterwards she said she felt “very ashamed.”
In 2005, actress and comedian Rebecca Corry was working on a TV pilot with the comedian, who was to be a guest star. According to Corry, he pulled her aside to ask if they could go into her dressing room so she could watch him masturbate. She recalled that she said no and reminded him that his wife was pregnant and that he was already a father. “His face got red, and he told me he had issues,” she told the Times. She later relayed the events to the pilot’s executive producers, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, who confirmed the complaint to the paper. “My concern was to create an environment where Rebecca felt safe, protected and heard,” Cox said told the Times in a statement. They said they discussed canceling the pilot but Corry wanted to see it through.
A fifth woman, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed C.K. asked her to watch him masturbate multiple times when she worked in production on The Chris Rock Show, where he was a writer and producer. She eventually agreed. “It was something that I knew was wrong,” she told the Times, adding she was in her early 20s at the time. “I think a big piece of why I said yes was because of the culture. He abused his power.” Another Chris Rock Show employee confirmed the account.
Prior to the Times article, C.K. canceled the New York premiere of his upcoming film, I Love You, Daddy. Additionally, his scheduled appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert was called off.
In I Love You, Daddy, one character simulates masturbation in front of two people. When confronted with the similarities by the Times earlier this year, he shrugged the accusations off as “rumors” and said, “It’s funny, I didn’t think of that” about the masturbation scene. Additionally, masturbation has long been a theme of C.K.’s standup routines. The Times cites one joke where he claims he has no place to masturbate at home and another where he claimed to have “constant perverted sexual thoughts.”
Two of the accusers say that C.K. has apologized to them in recent years as his popularity has expanded. Schachner reported that C.K. sent her a Facebook message in 2009 saying that the last time they’d spoken “ended in a sordid fashion” and that he was going through a “bad time in [his] life” and that he’s sorry. “I remember thinking what a repulsive person I was being by responding the way that I did,” he wrote. She accepted his apology but said that the experience turned her off to comedy.
Similarly, C.K. reached out to Corry with a “very very very late apology” via email, as confirmed by the Times. They spoke on the phone and he apologized for shoving her in a bathroom, to which she corrected him by saying he had asked if he could masturbate in front of her. He then acknowledged it, she said, and added, “I used to misread people back then.” She told the Times that she didn’t appreciate how that implied she had done something wrong.
Comedian Tig Notaro, whose program One Mississippi boasts C.K. as an executive producer, also spoke with the Times, saying she wanted to support the women and that she felt “trapped” by her association with the comedian. “He knew it was going to make him look like a good guy, supporting a woman,” she said of what she felt were his motivations for working on One Mississippi and releasing her comedy album.