Former model Scott R. Brunton, in a THR story, claims gay icon and Star Trek trailblazer George Takei attempted to take advantage of him sexually at the end of a 1981 date.
According to Brunton, he and Takei were casual friends who went on a date — dinner and a play — before going back to Takei's place for drinks. While there, Brunton recalls passing out during his second drink. He does not explicitly state that he was drugged, but he is clearly implying that. When he awoke, he says Takei was groping him, trying to get his underwear off. When he said no, Takei asked him to relax, which led Brunton to say no a second time, push him away, and leave. He said he sat in his car until he felt well enough to drive.
Takei did not immediately respond, but addressed the lag in his response in what comes across as a sincere, Saturday morning Facebook post on the subject, in which he flatly denies the incident ever occurred:
I'm writing to respond to the accusations made by Scott R. Brunton. I want to assure you all that I am as shocked and bewildered at these claims as you must feel reading them.
The events he describes back in the 1980s simply did not occur, and I do not know why he has claimed them now. I have wracked my brain to ask if I remember Mr. Brunton, and I cannot say I do. But I do take these claims very seriously, and I wanted to provide my response thoughtfully and not out of the moment.
Right now it is a he said / he said situation, over alleged events nearly 40 years ago. But those that know me understand that non-consensual acts are so antithetical to my values and my practices, the very idea that someone would accuse me of this is quite personally painful.
Brad, who is 100 percent beside me on this, as my life partner of more than 30 years and now my husband, stands fully by my side. I cannot tell you how vital it has been to have his unwavering support and love in these difficult times.
Thanks to many of you for all the kind words and trust. It means so much to us.
Yours in gratitude,
If the allegations against Takei were iron-clad, like the ones against so many other famous names (recent and in the past), this would be very sad. In fact, it's already sad, because obviously one guy believes them (unless he's just randomly lying, which is possible always), and because once a high-profile allegation is made, the taint doesn't just vanish.
However, George Takei isn't running for the Senate, has very little power in entertainment (and had zero in 1981), and flatly denies this ever happened, so whatever "becomes" of him, he is not on par with Polanski, Weinstein, Trump, Moore, Spacey, Louis C.K. — all admitted sexual abusers to varying degrees.
That said, even the content of this claim is far shadowier than any other case I've read so far, including the Richard Dreyfuss complaint, which led Dreyfuss to candidly admit he now questions every interaction he's ever had with a woman because he thought they were flirting and were friends for 30 years.
Not all of the alleged victims, not all of the stories and not all of the deeds outlined in the headline-making stories we've read lately should be treated with the same weight. I don't think that is radical or victim-blaming. That is just reasonable, no?
The next question is: Putting aside Takei and others who flatly deny allegations that are they said/they said, what do you do with someone, in the public eye or not, who is presumed, with strong evidence, to have committed sexual impropriety? If someone committed rape, punished for it or not, what's their place in society? What if it was not rape but sexual abuse, such as exposing oneself or unwanted touching? What about sexual harassment, when someone with demonstrable power over others uses it to make untoward suggestions or take unwelcome advantage?
I'm actualy asking, because I don't have any clue.
Kenneth quotes excommunicated Go-Go's rocker Kathy Valentine, who is eloquent on this very topic, and who is clearly empathetic toward victims/isn't delving into victim-blaming in order to make her point:
People sure are complicated and fucked up, and we all have to make judgments: do we go see Woody Allen's latest, do we watch the Casey Affleck movie? Harvey W was a bigger-than-life character, with an eye for talent and stories, but also a predatory blowhard scumbag. Kevin Spacey, brilliant, but wtf?? Miles Davis being a mean jerk never stopped me from swooning over his music. Chuck Berry illegally watching girls pee didn't stop him from ruling. Masturbators and humpers and rapists and gropers --all the entitled assholes with money and power who think they can do anything and get away with it. But it's been happening all along. Michael Jackson, Roman Polanski, all the politicians Dem and GOP. Phil Spector tormenting women and artists he worked with, Ike Turner. Not to mention the murderers, OJ, Robert Blake. The thing to celebrate here is that women and other victims are pulling back the curtain. They are empowered, and every voice that speaks up gives them more power. I'm not into an internet lynch mob pile-on for any of these guys who are being called out, but if careers and life work are collateral damage for a shift in consciousness about what is decent, human rights stuff behavior, so be it.
In the same way that there are varying laws and punishments for crimes from state to state (including, coincidentally, age of consent laws), the reactions to and limitations placed upon celebrities accused of sexual misdeeds are anything but uniform. (And we can use celebrities as a reflection of how we view ourselves.)
For example, Michael Jackson has had multiple credible reports of sexual abuse of minors. He settled for millions on this very topic! And yet his name is thrown around as an icon and inspiration on a daily basis. Most people — not all, but most — do not view him as persona non grata. R. Kelly works steadily.
Woody Allen is reviled by many on the left (the right always hated him), yet still makes films that are distributed, and still attracts A-list participation. He denies the only serious charge against him — and it's a whopper, that he sexually molested his six-year-old daughter — but due to themes in his work and due to his unapologetic marriage to his lover's daughter (which many conflate with child abuse), he is far more hated than Michael Jackson, who very probably had sexual encounters with children.
Bill Clinton clearly abused his power in sexual situations, even if Juantia Broaddrick's claim that he raped her leaves wiggle room for doubt, yet Clinton has not been radioactive in the past 20 years — and his wife nearly made him our First Spouse last year.
Roman Polanksi did, in fact, have sex with a 13-year-old, and copped a plea before fleeing he country. It may have been a different era, but he continued making Oscar-honored films.
With Bill Cosby, it wasn't one incident, it was dozens, and all involved sexual assault, with many involving him allegedly drugging women. That seemed too far for people, and he has been crossed off the list. But he's also 80, so in spite of being beloved, it may not be as difficult a decision as crossing off someone like Kevin Spacey, who was at the peak of his career. Dramatically, Spacey's misdeeds — and there have been so many allegations as to erase any worries of he said/he said — have resulted in his being expunged from a finished film and being considered completely, irrevocably unhireable. Ever again.
I'm not sure what we do with people who have done sexual wrongs, I just know there are a lot of them, and they're not all equally awful — and oddly, some of the ones I think are the most awful seem to have gotten off the easiest. After all, we elected a man president after knowing he enjoyed bragging about sexually assaulting women thanks to his status.