Culture

3 Alleged Sexual Predators Hollywood Has Warmly Embraced In Recent Years

The industry is hardly as progressive as its denunciations of Harvey Weinstein might suggest.

Casey Affleck
Photo Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Two reports have shaken the entertainment industry to its foundations. The first details decades of sexual harassment charges against Harvey Weinstein; the second chronicles his alleged assault of multiple women. Actor Rose McGowan has formally accused the studio head and megaproducer of rape, while Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and countless others have stepped forward to say that he sexually harrassed them. Actors and executives alike have publicly denounced his coercive behavior. Meryl Streep called it a "familiar" abuse of power; George Clooney likened Weinstein to Donald Trump; and Matt Damon expressed his disgust, however lamely, as a "father of daughters."

Hollywood hasn't always been so eager to censure its purported predators. Indeed, the industry has routinely ignored charges of sexual misconduct leveled against some of its most recognizable names and faces, be they actors, directors or comedians.

Roman Polanski has enjoyed a prosperous career since he was charged 40 years ago with drugging and sodomizing a 13-year-old girl, and Woody Allen could compete for an Academy Award this March with his newest film "Wonder Wheel," three years after his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, accused him of molesting her. Neither of these iconic filmmakers has proven an exception to the rule. Nor has Bill Cosby, who allegedly drugged and raped more than 50 women before he was cast out as a pariah. 

In the last week, football player-cum-actor Terry Crews and James Van Der Beek both revealed they were groped by studio executives, while Amazon Studios chief Roy Price was placed on leave for sexual harassment. But as with Weinstein, these kinds of accusations are often open secrets. Here are three other alleged sexual abusers Hollywood has warmly embraced in recent years.

1. Casey Affleck

Affleck got his first big break in Gus Van Sant's "Good Will Hunting" (1997), which incidentally was produced by Harvey Weinstein and distributed through his entertainment company, Miramax (Weinstein has since forged his own film studio, the Weinstein Company). And like Weinstein, multiple women have accused Affleck of sexual harrassment. 

In 2010, Affleck settled two separate lawsuits stemming from his time on the set of "I'm Still Here," an experimental mockumentary about the nature of celebrity. Magdalena Gorka, the film's cinematographer, alleged Affleck climbed into her bed without her consent, while producer Amanda White accused him of instructing a crew member to expose himelf to her, among other charges. 

According to Time, "They also said that Affleck and the film's star, Joaquin Phoenix, locked themselves in the women's shared hotel room with two other women, allegedly to have sex with them." (Gorka's and White's complaints can be read here and here.)

Both claims were settled out of court, and Affleck has maintained his innocence. Earlier this year, he won Best Actor for his performance in "Manchester by the Sea" (2017). Fellow award winner Brie Larson, who has done advocacy work for sexual assault victims, refused to applaud.

2. Louie C.K.

C.K. is arguably the most celebrated comedian of his time, as well as the creator of the critically acclaimed television shows "Louie" and "Better Things." He's also been accused on multiple occasions of sexual misconduct.

What's notable about his alleged crimes is their almost uncanny resemblance to Weinstein's. Back in 2012, a blind item published on Gawker noted that "our nation's most hilarious stand-up comic and critically cherished sitcom auteur" had trapped a woman in an Aspen hotel room and forced her to watch him masturbate. (TV reporter Lauren Sivan alleges Weinstein pleasured himself at his restaurant, Cafe Socialista, before ejaculating into a potted plant.) 

Three years later, C.K. had an eyebrow-raising exchange with a self-described former fan, who asked him to "stop taking out his penis in front of uninterested and frightened girls." A separate source told Gawker that Louie had masturbated in front of two women at a Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal several years before.

Fellow comedian Tig Notaro, whose show "One Mississippi" C.K. is executive producing, recently called on him to address these allegations. But thus far he has demurred, telling the New York Times in September that, "I’m not going to answer to that stuff, because they’re rumors."

C.K.'s new comedy special, "2017," was released on Netflix in April.

3. Bryan Singer

Singer has emerged as one of Hollywood's most bankable producer-directors, with credits including the hit series "House," several "X-Men" films and the Academy Award-winning "The Usual Suspects" (1995). In 2014, 31-year-old Michael Egan III accused the filmmaker of sexually abusing him as a teenager at one of his house parties, whose escapades Buzzfeed meticulously documented in a 2014 investigation.

“I didn’t know who to talk to, or how to deal with the demons eating away at me," Egan told the Daily Beast at the time. "Suicide absolutely went through my mind. I had a horrible time with drinking. If it hadn’t been for the support of my mother and family, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Egan ultimately dropped his lawsuit, and was later sentenced to two years in prison for conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud in an unrelated case.

In 2016, Noah Galvin of "The Real O'Neals" revived the sexual assault allegations, telling Vulture that, "Bryan Singer likes to invite little boys over to his pool and diddle them in the f**king dark of night." But once again the charges were withdrawn, with Galvin publishing a formal letter of apology to Singer. 

"My comments were false and unwarranted," he wrote. "It was irresponsible and stupid of me to make those allegations against Bryan, and I deeply regret doing so."

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.

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