Louis C.K. Acknowledges Sexual Misconduct as Media Firms Cut Ties

Comedian Louis C.K. expressed remorse for his behavior in the wake of several women recounting incidents of sexual misconduct in a report that caused entertainment companies to cut ties with him.

On Thursday, the New York Times reported accounts from five women who said Mr. C.K. had masturbated in front of them or during a phone call, or requested to do so. While some of the women said Mr. C.K. had asked permission first, some thought he was joking and then were stunned when he proceeded, according to the report. Another woman, fearing potential career repercussions, reluctantly said yes.

In a statement, Mr. C.K. said the accounts in the article were true, and he acknowledged abusing his power in those situations.

"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," he said. "There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for."

On the heels of the Times report, media firms began severing ties with the comedian. Netflix Inc. canceled the production of an upcoming stand-up comedy special with Mr. C.K., and the release of a movie he starred in and directed was canceled. FX ended its entire production deal with him Friday after the comedian's admission.

Mr. C.K. also expressed remorse toward the companies and individuals who have supported him.

"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," he wrote.

The movie, "I Love You, Daddy," which Mr. C.K. wrote, directed and stars in, won't be released, according to The Orchard, the distributor of the movie.

Time Warner Inc.'s HBO said Mr. C.K. would no longer appear on the pay-TV channel's "Night of Too Many Stars," a benefit to support autism hosted by Jon Stewart, which is scheduled to air Nov. 18. HBO also said it was removing the stand-up specials the comedian had done for the network from its on-demand offerings.

Netflix, which had signed Mr. C.K. to a deal for two stand-up specials, called the reports of his behavior "unprofessional and inappropriate" and said it wouldn't produce the second special as planned. The first premiered earlier this year. Unlike HBO, Netflix won't scrub its platform of the comedian's content.

21st Century Fox has long ties to Mr. C.K. whose surname is Szekely. Besides his stand-up comedy work, Mr. C.K. starred in the Emmy-award winning dark comedy "Louie" on Fox's FX channel and is an executive producer on some of the network's series.

FX Networks and FX Productions canceled its overall deal with Mr. C.K.'s production company on Friday and said the comedian will no longer serve as executive producer or receive pay from any of the shows it has been producing with him -- "Better Things," "Baskets," "One Mississippi" and "The Cops."

FX said it wasn't aware of any misconduct by the comedian on any of the projects he has been involved in over the past eight years. "However, now is not the time for him to make television shows," FX said in a statement. "Now is the time for him to honestly address the women who have come forth to speak about their painful experiences, a process which he began today with his public statement."

21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal parent News Corp share common ownership.

Production has been suspended on "The Cops," an animated show that was in development to be produced by FX for Time Warner's TBS network, TBS's parent Turner said Friday. Mr. C.K. was to provide a voice on the show.

Here is Louis C.K.'s full statement:

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.

Write to Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 10, 2017 17:40 ET (22:40 GMT)