US comedian Louis CK has admitted that sexual misconduct allegations made against him by five women are true.
He said he had “wielded power irresponsibly” and could hardly wrap his head around the “scope of hurt” he had caused them.
Four of the accusers told the New York Times he masturbated during interactions with them and a fifth said he had asked to do so.
The allegations led to the release of his new movie being scrapped.
I Love You Daddy – a comedy about an ageing film director, played by John Malkovich, who has a reputation for getting embroiled with young women – was due to have been released in the US on 17 November.
“These stories are true,” Louis CK said in his statement, which is reproduced in full at the bottom of this article.
“The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.”
The comedian added that he regretted the hurt he had inflicted on people he worked with, including his manager Dave Becky, his family, his friends, his children and their mother.
In Thursday’s New York Times report, four comediennes – Dana Min Goodman, Julia Wolov, Rebecca Corry and Abby Schachner – and a fifth woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, made allegations about the entertainer.
Goodman and Wolov said Louis CK stripped naked and masturbated after inviting them to his hotel room during the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado, in 2002.
Schachner said she called Louis CK in 2003 to invite him to one of her shows and was dumbfounded to realise during their phone conversation that he was masturbating. “I felt very ashamed,” she told the New York Times.
A fifth woman, who did not want to be named, told the newspaper of alleged incidents involving the comic in the late 1990s, while she was working in production on The Chris Rock Show.
Louis CK, who was a writer and producer on the show, repeatedly asked her to watch him perform a sex act, she said. “He abused his power,” she said.
Louis CK’s planned appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert was cancelled and HBO announced it would purge Louis CK’s past projects from its On Demand service.
The cable TV network also said the comic would no longer participate in a charity comedy special, Night of Too Many Stars, later this month.
On Thursday, a Los Angeles County district attorney Jackie Lacey announced a task force of veteran sex crimes prosecutors to address “the widespread allegations of sexual abuse in entertainment industry”.
Louis CK statement in full (warning – contains explicit language)
“I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.
“These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.
“I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.
“I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it.
“There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.
“I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work.
“The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them. I’d be remiss to exclude the hurt that I’ve brought on people who I work with and have worked with who’s professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this, including projects currently in production: the cast and crew of Better Things, Baskets, The Cops, One Mississippi, and I Love You Daddy. I deeply regret that this has brought negative attention to my manager Dave Becky who only tried to mediate a situation that I caused. I’ve brought anguish and hardship to the people at FX who have given me so much The Orchard who took a chance on my movie. and every other entity that has bet on me through the years.
“I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother.
“I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.