UPDATED throughout with additional details Comic, actor and producer Louis C.K. is the latest star to be accused of sexual misconduct. An expected expose in The New York Times has just landed, and the story includes multiple allegations that C.K. masturbated in front of women, often colleagues from the comedy world.
“Now,” writes The Times, “after years of unsubstantiated rumors about Louis C.K. masturbating in front of associates, women are coming forward to describe what they experienced. Even amid the current burst of sexual misconduct accusations against powerful men, the stories about Louis C.K. stand out because he has so few equals in comedy.”
Earlier today, tonight’s New York premiere of C.K.’s new film I Love You, Daddy, was canceled, as was his scheduled appearance on CBS’ Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
C.K.’s rep did not respond to Deadline‘s request for comment.
The Times article starts with a 2002 incident in which a Chicago comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, performing at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., were invited to hang out with C.K. in his hotel room.
“He was a comedian they admired,” The Times writes. “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.’”
Other women making similar accusations in The Times story include Abby Schachner, comedian Rebecca Corry and a fifth woman who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her family’s privacy.
The Times reports that C.K.’s publicist Lewis Kay said the comedian would not respond to the article.
The lengthy article details C.K.’s occasional candor with the women just before he acted, and places the behavior within the comedy scene:
“For comedians, the professional environment is informal: profanity and raunch that would be far out of line in most workplaces are common, and personal foibles — the weirder the better — are routinely mined for material. But Louis C.K.’s behavior was abusive, the women said.
“I think the line gets crossed when you take all your clothes off and start masturbating,” Ms. Wolov said.
Corry tells The Times that C.K. approached her on the set of a TV pilot. “He asked if we could go to my dressing room so he could masturbate in front of me,” she says. When she declined and pointed out that he had a daughter and a pregnant wife, Corry says, “His face got red and he told me he had issues.”
Both Courteney Cox and David Arquette, the pilot’s executive producers, confirmed the incident to The Times. “What happened to Rebecca on that set was awful,” Cox said, adding she felt “outrage and shock.” “My concern was to create an environment where Rebecca felt safe, protected and heard,” Cox said. Corry decided to continue with the show. “Things were going well for me,” she told The Times, “and I had no interest in being the person who shut down a production.”
Corry tells the paper that in 2015 she received an email from C.K. – which The Times says it has obtained – offering, in C.K.’s words, a “very very very late apology.”
“When he phoned her,” The Times writes, “he said was sorry for shoving her in a bathroom. Ms. Corry replied that he had never done that, but had instead asked to masturbate in front of her. Responding in a shaky voice, he acknowledged it and said, ‘I used to misread people back then,’ she recalled.”