Having just received a history-making Golden Globes Award, actor Aziz Ansari defended himself against allegations leveled by a 23-year-old Brooklyn, New York-based photographer who accused him of sexual misconduct in September 2017, and issued a statement Jan. 14 saying that it was “consensual.”
Speaking anonymously to the publication Babe, the woman recounted a date with the Indian American actor/comedian where she claims she felt pressured to perform sexual acts with him despite communicating to him in “clear verbal and non-verbal clues” that she wasn’t comfortable doing so. Going by the pseudonym Grace, the woman goes on to call the date “the worst night of my life.”
“In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date,” said Ansari in a statement given to People. “We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.”
Continued the statement, “The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”
“I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue,” the 34-year-old “Master of None” star said.
Grace told the publication that she met Ansari at an Emmy Awards after party in Los Angeles in September 2017, where they flirted a little bit and also exchanged numbers and eventually went on a date after a week of “flirtatious banter” over text.
The article goes on to add that “The date didn’t go as planned. The night would end with Grace in an Uber home, in tears, messaging her friends about how Ansari behaved.”
The publication has said it spoke to the first friends she told about it, and also reviewed the messages on her phone.
Grace told Babe.net that Ansari walked her to Grand Banks, an Oyster bar on a wooden schooner on the Hudson River, and on the way they discussed “NYU, comedy and a new, secret project he was working on,” but said that she did most of the talking.
In the piece titled, “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life,” Grace recalls that after a hurried dinner they returned to his apartment, where Ansari, she claims, engaged in sexual acts with her.
Within moments, he was kissing her, she said. “In a second, his hand was on my breast.” Then he was undressing her, then he undressed himself, she said. She said she remembers feeling uncomfortable at how quickly things escalated.
When Ansari told her he was going to grab a condom within minutes of their first kiss, she voiced her hesitation explicitly. “I said something like, ‘Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.’”
But he continued to press her to perform various sexual acts, she alleged. After several “Gross, forceful and aggressive kisses,” she said, Ansari briefly performed oral sex on her before asking her to do the same thing to him.
At one point, the woman said she spent around five minutes in the bathroom to compose herself. Then she went back to Ansari, who asked her if she was okay. “I said I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you,” she said.
The day after the incident, she wrote a long text to Ansari, saying: “I just want to take this moment to make you aware of (your) behavior and how uneasy it made me.” To that message, Ansari responded: “Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
Speaking to Babe, Grace mentioned the glaring gap between Ansari’s comedy persona and the behavior she experienced in his apartment as a reason why she didn’t get out earlier. “I didn’t leave because I think I was stunned and shocked,” she said. “This was not what I expected. I’d seen some of his shows and read excerpts from his book and I was not expecting a bad night at all, much less a violating night and a painful one.”
The woman said she decided to make her story public after she saw Ansari sport a Time’s Up pin at the Golden Globe Awards last week, at which he won the award for ‘Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy’ for his monumental work on Netflix’s “Master of None” (see earlier India-West story here).
She also said that “It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault,” telling Babe, “I was debating if this was an awkward sexual experience or sexual assault. And that’s why I confronted so many of my friends and listened to what they had to say, because I wanted validation that it was actually bad.”