New York • With his career imploding over allegations of sexual misconduct, comedian Louis C.K. confessed Friday to masturbating in front of women and expressed remorse for wielding his influence “irresponsibly.”
The comedian said in a statement that the harassment claims by five women detailed in a New York Times report published Thursday “are true.”
“I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them,” he said.
“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 behavior.” 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.
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.
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.”
“ER” actor Anthony Edwards revealed that he was molested when he was 12 by director and producer Gary Goddard. In a post Friday on Medium, Edwards said he’s been in therapy for years over the assault and confronted Goddard over it 22 years ago at an airport. Goddard, he said, “swore to his remorse.” Attorney Alan Grodin, a lawyer for Goddard, said Goddard has been out of the country and “will have a response shortly.”
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.
The crisis has also roiled the world of journalism, with editors at The New Republic and NPR losing their jobs. The latest accusation involved Rolling Stone: Ben Ryan, a freelance writer, accused the magazine’s publisher, Jann Wenner, of sexual harassment, saying Wenner offered a writing contract if Ryan spent the night at the publisher’s Manhattan townhouse. Wenner acknowledges he did attempt to have a sexual liaison but denied offering a writing contract for sex.
In other developments, 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.
McCarthy 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 and TV Writer David Bauder contributed to this report.