The incident Goodman and Wolov recounted first surfaced in a Gawker blind item in 2012 that many quickly guessed was referring to C.K. The Gawker reporter Jordan Sargent followed up on the story in 2015 after talking to someone who had spoken to the comedian on the phone about the allegations. The Times story, however, is the first to get some of C.K.’s accusers on the record. The article comes at a particularly sensitive moment, not just because of the ongoing wave of sexual-harassment and assault revelations in Hollywood that began with Harvey Weinstein. C.K. also has a new film that he wrote and directed called I Love You, Daddy, which explores the moral quandaries of admiring a celebrity who has been accused of child molestation.
The film, which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, is due out on November 17, though its premiere was reportedly canceled in anticipation of the Times story. I Love You, Daddy stars C.K. as the father of a 17-year-old girl (played by Chloë Grace Moretz) whom he suspects of having a romantic relationship with a 68-year-old director accused of pedophilia (played by John Malkovich). In the film, Malkovich’s character more resembles Woody Allen than C.K. himself in reputation. Still, it’s an opportunity for C.K. to poke at questions of public image vs. private behavior, as well as the notion of consent and how freely it can be given by an underaged woman.
The Times story chronicles several situations in which C.K. reportedly exposed himself and made lewd suggestions to fellow comedians. Abby Schachner, a writer and performer, called C.K. and invited him to attend her comedy show in 2003; while on the phone, she said, he told her his sexual fantasies and masturbated for several minutes. Schachner recalled that, six years later, C.K. sent her an apologetic Facebook message that read, “Last time I talked to you ended in a sordid fashion. … That was a bad time in my life and I’m sorry.”
The comedian Rebecca Corry, who was working with C.K. on a television pilot in 2005, described him asking to masturbate in front of her. When she declined, also mentioning that he had a daughter and a pregnant wife, his face “got red” and “he told me he had issues,” she told the Times. Ten years later, Corry added, he emailed saying he owed her a “very very very late apology,” but when he called, he apologized instead for “shoving her in a bathroom.” Corry said that when she mentioned the masturbation, C.K. acknowledged the incident, saying, “I used to misread people back then.”
Along with Wolov and Goodman, who described C.K. suddenly taking off his clothes and masturbating to completion in front of them, an anonymous production worker on The Chris Rock Show (for which C.K. wrote in the 1990s) told the Times that he masturbated in front of her at his desk chair during a workday. “I think the big piece of why I said yes was because of the culture,” she said. “He abused his power.”