Louis C.K. says that the “stories are true.”
We knew that Louis C.K.’s world was dark and conflicted. But we hoped that he had transmuted all of those roiling observations and desires into comedy gold.
Now it turns out that he had some desires that found an end not in comedy, but in tragedy. Rather than finding an appreciative audience, he made victims through his inappropriate sexual conduct.
After I wrote this glowing review of his Madison Square Garden show last year, friends on Facebook told me about the rumors of his bad sexual behavior.
They were just rumors at the time and I didn’t want to believe it. It was too close to home, he and I had a lot of life details in common.
He’s three years older than me with two daughters (11 and 14) each three years older than mine, living around the corner from me in Manhattan. Watching his darkly comic autobiographical tv show “Louie” I can’t help thinking that his life of bitterness and self-loathing could be mine in three years, given a less tolerant wife and an extra 20 pounds.
But now those rumors seems borne out.
In response to The New York Times report of four named and one anonymous victims, Louis C.K. has issued a statement saying all the stories were true. He says he was a man people admired, and that he abused that admiration. Literally “admired” means “wonder at” (ad — at, to; mirari — wonder). Alas, now instead of looking at him with wonder, people now wonder at his behavior.
In the statement (find it below) he says that “there is nothing about this that I forgive myself for.” However he does not, publicly, say sorry or ask forgiveness from the victims in the statement. I hope that means privately he’s saying a lot of sorry.
Dan Friedman is the executive editor of the Forward. Follow him on Twitter at @danfriedmanme
Here’s the full statement from Louis C.K.:
“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.
Thank you for reading.”
Dan Friedman is the director of content and communications at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Formerly the executive editor and whisky correspondent of the Forward, he is the author of an illuminating (and excellent value) book about Tears for Fears, the 80s emo rock band.