NEW YORK – American stand-up comedian Louis C.K. admitted to and expressed remorse on Friday for engaging in sexual misconduct involving several women, including masturbating in front of them.
He issued a statement after five women told The New York Times, in a story published on Thursday, that the highly successful comedian had masturbated – or tried to masturbate – either in front of them or during a phone conversation.
The women – four comedians who gave their names and a woman who worked in production on a comedy show who spoke on condition of anonymity – all said the incidents occurred without their consent.
They told the paper the incidents took place between the late 1990s and 2005.
“These stories are true,” the 50-year-old American, whose birth name is Louis Szekely, said in a statement.
“At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my d--k without asking first, which is also true,” the statement read.
“But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d--k 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,” he said.
The accusations against Louis C.K. came after years of unsubstantiated rumors about his alleged sexual improprieties and amid a wave of sexual harassment and assault accusations against prominent men in the US entertainment world.
Sex-crime accusations against major film producer Harvey Weinstein have captured the most media attention and opened the floodgates for similar allegations against numerous other Hollywood figures.
In an Oct. 5 story also published by The New York Times, Ashley Judd and other actresses said the disgraced producer had invited them to his hotel room and tried to manipulate them into having sex with him.
Even more serious allegations were contained in a subsequent New Yorker report, in which Italian actress and producer Asia Argento and others accused Weinstein of “forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex.”
Prosecutors in New York have confirmed they are preparing accusations against Weinstein for allegedly raping American actress Paz de la Huerta, who is now 33, on two separate occasions in 2010.
Shortly before the allegations against Louis C.K. surfaced on Thursday, the New York premiere of his new film “I Love You, Daddy” was abruptly canceled.
The film contains scenes in which a character played by male actor Charlie Day simulates masturbating in front of another character played by actress Edie Falco.