Indian-American actor-comedian Aziz Ansari has responded to a claim of sexual misconduct by a woman he briefly dated last September. He says that he was surprised and concerned after knowing about the allegations.
The 34-year-old comedian responded to the claim on Sunday night through his publicist, according to a report by Variety.
"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. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual," Ansari said.
"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," he said.
In a story published on Saturday on Babe.net, a woman described as a 23-year-old photographer from Brooklyn claimed Ansari aggressively pushed her to perform sexual acts after she went back to his Tribeca apartment following dinner at a restaurant. The woman is identified only by the pseudonym Grace in the story.
In the piece titled âI went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my lifeâ, Grace details the nightâs events. They two got talking as they were using the same type of camera at an event, and then exchanged numbers.
They went on a date to a restaurant, and then headed back to Azizâs apartment. Grace told Babe that she sensed that Ansari was âeagerâ to leave.
As soon as they got to Azizâs apartment, she complimented his marble countertops.
âHe said something along the lines of, âHow about you hop up and take a seat?ââ Within moments, he was kissing her. âIn a second, his hand was on my breast,â Grace told Babe.
Grace says she felt extremely uncomfortable with the pace at which things were going forward. She describes the multiple physical cues she gave to Aziz to communicate the same - she pulled away, mumbled, stopped moving her lips, and even asked him to slow down. She even stated her discomfort explicitly later on, but not before Aziz allegedly ignored all the indications he did not have Grace's consent.
Grace says that Aziz performed oral sex on her, and also moved her hand to his penis five to seven times.
âIt was 30 minutes of me getting up and moving and him following and sticking his fingers down my throat again. It was really repetitive,â she added.
When she ultimately decided to leave his apartment, Ansari arranged for an Uber to pick her up. The following day, she sent him a text message telling him his behaviour made her "uneasy." According to the story, Ansari responded: "Clearly I misread things in the moment and I'm truly sorry."
The woman decided to come forward after watching Ansari win a Golden Globe Award for his Netflix series Master of None. At the ceremony, he wore a Time's Up pin on his lapel, indicating his support for the entertainment industry initiative designed to combat sexual harassment.
The claims against Ansari have sparked a debate in social media about whether the experience described in the story crosses the line into misconduct or would be more accurately described as a bad date.
Ansari is known for his observational humour on love and relationships. He wrote a well-received book on the subject, Modern Romance, which was published in 2015. He has broken ground for people of Indian descent through his work on Parks and Recreation and his Emmy and Golden Globe wins for Master of None.
(With IANS inputs)