The Star Trek actor and gay rights activist George Takei responded on Saturday to an accusation that he sexually assaulted a young actor nearly 40 years ago.
The alleged event “simply did not occur”, Takei said.
On Friday, Scott R Brunton told the Hollywood Reporter that in 1981, when he was 23, he was invited into Takei’s condo in Los Angeles. Brunton implied his drink may have been spiked, saying he passed out and awoke to find Takei trying to strip him and groping his genitals.
“This happened a long time ago but I have never forgotten it,” he said. The Reporter said “four longtime friends of Brunton” had said he confided to them about the alleged incident “years ago”.
“The events he describes back in the 1980s simply did not occur,” Takei wrote, “and I do not know why he
has claimed them now. I have wracked [sic] my brain to ask if I remember Mr Brunton, and I cannot say I do.”
Also on Saturday, a recording of a recent Howard Stern radio show emerged in which Stern asked Takei if he had ever grabbed a man’s genitals against his will.
Takei paused, said “uh oh” and laughed. Stern repeated the question and Takei said: “Some people are kind of skittish, or maybe, um, uh, afraid, and you’re trying to persuade.”
Stern’s co-host, Robin Quivers, asked if Takei did “this grabbing at work”. Takei said: “Oh no no no, it wasn’t at work. It was either in my home. They came to my home … it didn’t involve power over the other.”
Brunton’s claim followed an avalanche of sexual assault and harassment allegations against prominent men in entertainment, politics, media and sports.
A number of men have said they were assaulted by Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey, who apologised in one case but angered the gay community by coming out as gay in the same statement.
Takei’s accuser said the actor befriended him when he was working as a waiter and beginning a career as an actor and model. Following his break-up from a boyfriend, Brunton said, Takei invited him home.
After he passed out on a beanbag chair, he claimed, he woke up to find Takei molesting him. Brunton said he told Takei “I don’t want to do this”. After Takei failed to persuade him to accept the attention, Brunton said, he left the condo and drove home.
In his tweets on Saturday, Takei said: “I do take these claims very seriously, and I wanted to provide my response thoughtfully and not out of the moment. Right now it is he said/he said situation, over alleged events nearly 40 years ago.
“But those that know me understand that non-consensual acts are so antithetical to my values and my practices, the very idea that someone would accuse me of this is quite personally painful.”
Takei, 80, was an original Star Trek cast member, playing Lt Hikaru Sulu on television and in a series of films. In 2005 he came out publicly and revealed he had been in a relationship for 18 years. A campaigner for LGBTQ rights for years, he stepped up his activism after coming out, campaigning stridently for the right to same-sex marriage. He is a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign and has become a leading gay celebrity, taking part in pride parades across the US.
The last of his five tweets on Saturday morning referred to his partner, Brad Altman. It read: “Brad, who is 100% beside me on this, as my life partner of more than 30 years and now my husband, stands fully by my side. I cannot tell you how vital it has been to have his unwavering support and love in these difficult times.”