Actor George Takei has taken to Facebook to apologize for a “distasteful joke” about groping men during an interview on the Howard Stern Sirius XM radio show. A clip from the discussion attracted a lot of attention after a male model and actor, then 23, accused Takei of groping his crotch in 1981 at Takei’s Hollywood condo after the younger man says he passed out.
Takei, 80, famously portrayed Mr. Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series in the late 1960s and later in six movies in the sci-fi franchise. One of the latest in an ever-growing list of celebrities accused of sex-related harassment/misconduct and similar tawdry activities, Takei has denied the sexual assault accusations by the other man, insisting that the incident never occurred, and that the accusations left him “shocked and bewildered.”
In the context of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, as well as the Donald Trump Access Hollywood leaked audio, when Howard Stern asked Takei, a vocal Trump foe, last month if he ever grabbed somebody’s private parts against their will, the Star Trek actor hesitated, laughed, and then said, “Some people are kind of skittish, or maybe afraid, and you’re trying to persuade.”
In addition to noting that the persuasion might have been “more than gentle,” Takei stressed to Stern and co-host Robin Quivers that he never used the employment scenario for romantic advantage (“it didn’t involve power over the other”), and that any encounters occurred at his home rather than in the workplace.
Given the allegations against him combined with the apparent reaction to the Howard Stern interview in that context, George Takei posted an apology on his Facebook page, in which he also asserted that he was just playing along with Howard, and that in the real world, all of his relationships were consensual.
“Out of context, I agree that the joke was distasteful, and I’m very sorry [Stern] and I made fun out of a serious matter. For decades, I have played the part of a ‘naughty gay grandpa’ when I visit Howard’s show, a caricature I now regret. But I want to be clear: I have never forced myself upon someone during a date…I see now that that it has come across poorly in the awkward sketch, and I apologize for playing along with Howard’s insinuation. Non-consensual acts are anathema to me and my personal code of conduct, and I would never do something against anyone’s will, period.”
According to the New York Daily News and other media outlets, George Takei claimed on Sunday that Russian bots were responsible for publicizing the sexual assault allegations against him. The actor also alluded to Russian bots previously attacking his Facebook page following his criticism of Vladimir Putin’s anti-LGBT policies. Takei has since deleted the tweet.
[Featured Image by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP Images]