Rumors have been shadowing comic Louis C.K. for years, saying he’s known for sexually assaulting the women who work with him. But what might make the rumors even worse — at least, for now — is C.K.’s unwillingness to address them.
C.K. has been plagued by anonymous internet talk that says he locks himself in rooms with female colleagues and masturbates in front of them. While no one has specifically come forward and claimed to be one of his victims, he has been outed by name by Roseanne Barr, who says she hasn’t experienced such an assault from C.K. herself, but claims to have heard accounts from multiple women.
Another fellow comedian, Tig Notaro, made headlines last month for publicly calling on C.K. to address the rumors, saying, “I think it’s important to take care of that, to handle that, because it’s serious to be assaulted. It’s serious to be harassed. It’s serious, it’s serious, it’s serious.”
But that still didn’t push C.K. to say much. In an interview with The New York Times at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, he refused to address the rumors in earnest, saying only, “I’m not going to answer to that stuff, because they’re rumors. If you actually participate in a rumor, you make it bigger and you make it real.”
The New York Times reporter pushed again, asking, “So it’s not real?”
C.K. responded, “No. They’re rumors, that’s all that is.”
As of now, it’s hard to know what to make of this. While believing victims is so important, there is no one here claiming to be a victim. On the other hand, C.K. is a powerful force in the industry, and speaking out against him could have irreparable consequences. Like women stayed silent for years before coming forward in droves to accuse Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them, victims could be being silenced by the power structures at play here. Only one thing, though, is for certain: C.K. isn’t doing himself any favors by refusing to address the rumors as they grow.