NEW YORK: British actor Russell Brand made his first public comments since he was accused in a bombshell report of emotional and sexual abuse, though he stopped short of directly addressing the allegations, reported German Press Agency dpa.
Instead, Brand alluded to the claims in a YouTube video on Friday night while telling his 6.6 million subscribers about the topics he plans to discuss in the coming days, among them the pharmaceutical industry and media censorship.
“Hello there, you awakening wonders,” Brand begins. “Obviously, it’s been an extraordinary and distressing week, and I thank you very much for your support and for questioning the information that you’ve been presented with.”
It comes a week after the Times of London, The Sunday Times, and Channel 4’s “Dispatches” published a joint investigation in which several women accused Brand of sexual assault and rape between 2006 and 2013 – a period marking the height of his fame in Hollywood.
One of the women said she was just 16 when she and the actor – in his 30s at the time – began an “emotionally and sexually abusive” three-month relationship. Another said he raped her in his Los Angeles home in 2012, while a third women claimed he forced himself on her a year later at his residence in West Hollywood.
Since the initial accusations, even more women have come forward, including one who claims Brand exposed himself to her in an office building and later joked about the incident on his radio show.
Brand issued a preemptive response in a video called “So, This Is Happening,” which he posted the night before The Times published its report. In it, he said that he “absolutely refutes” the “astonishing, rather baroque attacks” against him, though he did not provide specifics.
In the wake of the allegations, Brand’s live tour has been postponed, his shows have been pulled from BBC’s streaming platform, and YouTube has demonetised his channel.
“By now you’re probably aware that the British government have asked big tech platforms to censor our online content and that some online platforms have complied with that request,” he said in his latest video.
“What you may not know is that this happens in the context of the Online Safety Bill, which is a piece of UK legislation that grants sweeping surveillance and censorship powers, and it’s a law that has already been passed,” he added.
The legislation, which requires social media platforms to take down illegal content in addition to criminalising certain online behaviour, passed its final Parliamentary debate on Tuesday but it has not yet become a law.