Louis CK sexual harassment claims get first on-record denial: ‘They’re rumors, that’s all it is’

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For the first time, Louis CK has both addressed and denied the sexual harassment rumors that have swirled around him for over two years. The New York Times‘ Cara Buckley asked the comedian about the Louis CK sexual harassment rumors in an interview for his new movie, I Love You, Daddy. The broader context is that the movie–which stars Chloë Grace Moretz as an almost-eighteen-year-old actress being seduced by a filmmaker four times her age–addresses but doesn’t try to answer uncomfortable questions about how well people ever really know each other.

(In case you need one, here’s a quick primer on the Louis CK sexual harassment rumors. In the summer of 2015, comedian Jen Kirkman devoted part of her podcast to describing but not naming a comedian who sounded an awful lot like Louis whose “weird treatment” of her involved unspecified sexual behavior. Several weeks later, Kirkman clarified that she and the alleged harasser had discussed her discomfort and were “fine,” and left it at that. Last year, Roseanne Barr said she had heard numerous stories of Louis masturbating in front of female comics without their consent; several weeks ago, Tig Notaro said that she had had “an incident” with Louis, but gave no details.)

For Louis, the only “uncomfortable truth” is that “You don’t know anybody.” So, when Buckley broached the topic of how well the comedian’s fans know him, given the Louis CK sexual harassment rumors, Louis both denied them and said he didn’t want to talk about them. “If you actually participate in a rumor, you make it bigger and you make it real,” he said. When Buckley followed up with “So it’s not real?”, Louis’ response was unequivocal: “No. They’re rumors, that’s all it is.”

When asked, Louis also addressed Tig Notaro’s recent claim. “I don’t know why she said the things she’s said, I really don’t,” he said. Louis then added–perhaps in light of the fact that Notaro also said she and Louis haven’t spoken in over a year–”I don’t think talking about that stuff in the press and having conversations over press lanes is a good idea.”

Louis is right that the stories are “rumors,” but only in the sense that he’s not been accused of anything specific by anyone with firsthand knowledge of the alleged harassment. Roseanne is the only one of the three women who’ve spoken up to attach a name to the accusations, and she acknowledged that she was repeating things she had heard from other people. Jen Kirkman only ever referred to the man as “he,” and Tig Notaro’s use of the phrase “an incident” isn’t necessarily sexual.

So, to a certain extent, there’s nothing for Louis to deny. But it’s also true that his denial doesn’t mean the rumors will disappear. And the backdrop of a movie about the weird boundaries of pedophilia, one that’s meant to make its audience uncomfortable (have you ever thought of pedophilia as something with boundaries?), only heightens the awkwardness of the moment. For now, this story lives in an emotional gray area that is very Louis CK-esque.

(Photo credits: Louis CK sexual harassment via Louis CK, NBC; h/t to Jezebel)

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