Louis C.K. has finally addressed one of the comedy world’s biggest open secrets: the stories of sexual misconduct that have trailed him for years.
“These stories are true,” he wrote in a statement of remorse shared with HuffPost. “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.”
Louis C.K.’s response comes after The New York Times detailed five women’s accounts of his unwanted sexual advances. Others in the entertainment industry, including actors Courteney Cox and David Arquette and comedian Tig Notaro, confirmed and supported stories about the comedian’s behavior that he previously dismissed as mere rumors.
The comedian expressed regret for not providing the female comedians with professional guidance and said that his behavior caused them to feel “badly about themselves and cautious around other men.”
“The power I had over these women is that they admired me,” he wrote, “And I wielded that power irresponsibly.”
Louis C.K. went on to name several of his partners in the entertainment business, including the network FX, home to several current and past Louis C.K. projects, The Orchard, the distributor that purchased his latest film project, and manager Dave Becky. He said he now plans to take a break from his work.
“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.”
Comedians Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, along with another woman who wished to remain anonymous, told the Times that Louis C.K. had masturbated in front of them. Comedian Rebecca Corry said he once asked if he could masturbate in front of her, but she declined angrily.
“His face got red,” she told the Times, “and he told me he had issues.”
Abby Schachner, who once wished to pursue comedy, recalled speaking over the phone with Louis C.K. when it became clear to her that he was masturbating on his end of the line.
Goodman and Wolov told the Times they felt pressure to keep quiet from others in the comedy world, including Louis C.K.’s manager, Dave Becky.
As reactions to the damaging report rolled out on social media, comedians and entertainment industry insiders did not express much surprise. “Parks and Recreation” creator Mike Schur apologized for having Louis C.K. on the show for six episodes when he already knew about the comedian’s misconduct. TV writer Nicole Silverberg, meanwhile, said a friend once suggested she delete a tweet critical of Louis C.K. before applying to a “high-profile comedy job” because “the people conducting the hiring process might not like it.”
In response to the report, a film distributor announced it would not release the comedian’s new movie, “I Love You, Daddy,” one day after abruptly canceling the film’s New York premiere. He has also been dropped from the lineup on an HBO charity special, “Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs,” as the network removes his past projects from its on-demand services. A second stand-up special featuring Louis C.K. that Netflix had planned has also been scrapped.
While the Times’ report contained many troubling details about the comedian, perhaps the most chilling was contained in one quote by Corry. She said Louis C.K. once called her to apologize for shoving her in a bathroom, but Corry did not recall that incident, leaving the identity of the woman Louis C.K. may have shoved unknown, along with the number of women affected by a once-celebrated comedian’s misbehavior.
Read Louis C.K.’s full statement below.
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.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.