Louis C.K. accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women

Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of sexual misconduct toward several women, including masturbating in front of them to their horror and embarrassment, according to a report in The New York Times.

Warning: This story contains graphic details

The New York premiere of Louis C.K.'s new film I Love You, Daddy was cancelled on Thursday night and C.K.'s scheduled Friday appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert was also scrapped in anticipation of the The New York Times story alleging sexual misconduct against five women. (Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of sexual misconduct toward several women, including masturbating in front of them to their horror and embarrassment, according to a report in the New York Times.

Comedians Dana Min Goodman, Abby Schachner, Julia Wolov and Rebecca Corry allege the Emmy-winning star of FX's Louie either pleasured himself in front of them, asked to do it or did so over the phone. A fifth woman detailed her allegations against C.K. to the paper but was not identified.

A lawyer for C.K. did not immediately respond to comment from The Associated Press, but a representative for the comedian said Thursday that C.K. would issue a written statement in the coming days.

Another publicist told the Times the comedian would not respond to their reporting. Schachner, who said she heard C.K. masturbating on the phone in 2003, declined comment to the AP and representatives for the other three named women did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Film premiere cancelled

Corry alleges the comedian, while she was working on a TV pilot in 2005, asked "if we could go to my dressing room so he could masturbate in front of me." She declined "and he told me he had issues." The show's executive producers, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, confirmed Corry's account to the Times. Cindy Guagenti, Arquette's representative, told the AP her client had nothing more to add.

In anticipation of the report, the New York premiere of Louis C.K.'s new film I Love You, Daddy was cancelled on Thursday night and C.K.'s scheduled Friday appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert also has been scrapped. The small distribution company handling the release of I Love You Daddy said it is reviewing the situation and giving careful consideration to the timing and release of the film.

Louis C.K. wrote and directed the film I Love You, Daddy because, he said, he wanted to make a film about beloved artists who are trailed by murmurs of scandal. (TIFF)

HBO announced Thursday that C.K. would no longer be participating in Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs, set to air on the cable channel November 18. HBO also said it will remove C.K.'s past projects from its video on demand services.

C.K. is among the latest Hollywood figures to be accused of misconduct in a wave that began when dozens of sexual harassment allegations were reported last month against film mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Warts and all

Known for his candid, warts-and-all personal humour, which often includes talk of bodily fluids and sex, C.K. grew up outside Boston. He performed stand-up sets in New York and eventually landed writing gigs on Conan O'Brien's Late Night and David Letterman's Late Show.

He went on to become the head writer of The Dana Carvey Show from 1995-96 and contributed to the animated TV Funhouse vignettes on Saturday Night Live.

Five women are accusing comedian Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct, claiming in some of their allegations that he masturbated in front of them 3:28

He was a writer on The Chris Rock Show and voiced patients on the Comedy Central's Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. He also wrote and directed the film Pootie Tang with Rock, an infamous bomb.

In a 2014 episode of his FX series Louie, the title character played by C.K. pushes himself on a longtime friend and sometime flame, Pamela. She's played by actress-writer Pamela Adlon of Better Things.

Involved in many shows

In the scene, Pamela rebuffs his efforts to pull her into his bedroom as he paws at her. "This would be rape if you weren't so stupid. My God, you can't even rape well," she says.

C.K.'s comedy writing and production tentacles spread throughout TV and film. He's credited as a creator of the Zach Galifianakis show Baskets, in its third season on FX, and of Adlon's Better Things, now in its second season on FX. He is also developing another series for FX called The Cops in which he's set to star opposite Albert Brooks. C.K. is an executive producer of comedian Tig Notaro's Amazon series, One Mississippi. He starred in a Netflix special earlier this year that was nominated for two Emmy Awards.

Cast member Zach Galifianakis, left, and Louis C.K. participate in a panel for the FX Networks series Baskets in California last year. Louis C.K. is involved in many productions. (Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

FX said in a statement Thursday it was "obviously very troubled by the allegations."

"The network has received no allegations of misconduct by Louis C.K. related to any of our 5 shows produced together over the past 8 years," the statement said, adding, "the matter is currently under review."

Film premiered at TIFF

C.K. also appeared on several episodes of Parks and Recreation in 2012 and creator Mike Schur apologized Thursday for including him. On Twitter, Schur admitted to hearing rumours but still using the comedian. "I'm sorry," he wrote.

C.K.'s new film, I Love You, Daddy, had its premiere this summer at the Toronto International Film Festival. C.K., who co-starred in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, said he and co-writer Vernon Chatman wanted to make a movie about beloved artists who are trailed by murmurs of scandal.

Sexual harassment is a serious issue, but how it's defined and what's appropriate can vary from person to person. To get opinions, CBC set up a chair in a park and invited people to have a seat. The chair itself isn't special, but when people sit down they're handed a question, and their off-the-cuff answers are what makes The Red Chair special. 3:20

Some also see the black-and-white 35mm film as C.K.'s response to his own controversies. Allegations of questionable sexual behaviour long have dogged C.K.: Roseanne Barr has said there are "multiple accusations" and Notaro advised C.K. to "handle" the rumours.

In the film, C.K. plays a successful TV producer whose 17-year-old daughter begins a relationship with an older director. It spawns a kind of crisis for C.K.'s character, who has his own issues with how he treats women.

Criminal task force

The allegations about C.K.'s behaviour are the latest in Hollywood's growing sexual harassment scandal, which prompted Los Angeles County district attorney Jackie Lacey to announce Thursday the establishment of a task force to handle any resulting criminal complaints.

Canadian actor Chantal Cousineau is speaking out on the sexual harassment she says she faced from film director James Toback. Since coming forward, Cousineau has received support from dozens of other women. Now she's using the opportunity to bring change to the entertainment industry 5:09

The industry group Women in Film also announced Thursday that it plans to launch a "help line" and panel of pro-bono legal professionals to provide counselling, referrals and legal advice to harassment victims. The free service is expected to be available beginning Dec. 1.

Other fallout Thursday:

  • Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner was accused of sexual harassment by a former writer on the show. Kater Gordon told the website The Information in an article published Thursday that Weiner said she "owed it to him to let him see me naked" when they were working together one night. Weiner denied the allegations in a statement released by his publicist, saying, "He does not remember saying this comment nor does it reflect a comment he would say to any colleague."
  • Prison Break star Robert Knepper denied allegations that he forced himself on a costume designer in 1992. Designer Susan Bertram told The Hollywood Reporter that Knepper sexually assaulted her while filming Gas Food Lodging. She alleges he grabbed her and pushed her against a wall in his trailer. She says she managed to escape. Knepper responded to the allegations on Instagram, saying "I am shocked and devastated to be falsely accused of violence against a woman. That's just not who I am."
  • Director Alfonso Arau dismissed Debra Messing's charge that he demeaned her on the set of her first film, A Walk in the Clouds. The 85-year-old filmmaker said the Will & Grace star was "following fashion" with her accusation but that it had "nothing to do with reality." Messing said in February that Arau and producers had surprised her with a nude scene in the 1995 film that she hadn't agreed to in advance. When she complained, she says Arau told her, "Your job is to get naked and to say the lines. That's it."