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Aziz Ansari responds to sexual assault allegations brought against him

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Kayleigh Dray
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Aziz Ansari has responded to a detailed accusation of sexual assault be saying he had believed the encounter to be “completely consensual”.

Babe magazine has published a detailed account from a 23-year-old woman who said she felt “victimised” after a date with Ansari.

Named only as ‘Grace’ to protect her anonymity, the 23-year-old woman alleges that she went for dinner with Ansari shortly after meeting him at an Emmy Awards after-party in 2017.

She then says they walked back to his apartment, and started kissing – but, within seconds, “his hand was on my breast.”

Grace describes how Ansari allegedly kept persisting in his attempts to have sex with her, “going to grab a condom within minutes of their first kiss” and sticking his fingers down her throat before performing a sex act on her.

“I just remember looking in the mirror and seeing him behind me,” she tells the publication.

“He was very much caught up in the moment and I obviously very much wasn’t.”

Grace goes on to claim that she used continual verbal and non-verbal indicators that she was uncomfortable, and eventually told him she didn’t “want to feel forced”.

It was at this point that Ansari allegedly motioned for her to perform a sex act on him, and repeatedly asked her: “Where do you want me to f**k you?”

After what she describes as a series of “gross, forceful kisses”, Grace demanded that Ansari call her a car – which he did, although he allegedly asked her to “just tell them your name is Essence” (a name he has joked about using as a pseudonym in Master of None).

Grace says she “cried the whole way home” and later texted Ansari to say he had ignored “clear non-verbal cues”.

He reportedly responded at the time by saying: “Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”

Grace adds that it has taken her a long time to “validate this as a sexual assault”, and that she felt compelled to come forward after seeing Ansari wear a Time’s Up pin at the Golden Globes.

“[It was] absolutely cringeworthy that he was wearing the Time’s Up pin,” she says, referring to the pin commissioned by Reese Witherspoon – and designed by Arianne Phillips – to draw attention to the new sexual harassment prevention initiative of the same name that launched earlier this year.

“I think that started a new fire, and it kind of made it more real.”

Aziz Ansari at the 2018 Golden Globes

Ansari’s show, Master of None, has been praised for its tackling of societal issues such as racism and sexual harassment. 

As Babe notes, in one particular episode of the Netflix series, a macho TV chef called Chef Jeff offers Ansari’s character Dev a career opportunity, before being accused by a number of women of sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Discussing the storyline with Vulture, Ansari said: “So it was like, ‘Okay, what if this is one of those types of guys and we just get the audience to love him? And then pull the rug out from under them at the end and reveal that he’s actually not a good dude?’”

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Ansari has since responded to Grace’s allegations via a statement released through a representative.

The comedian says that he and his accuser “ended up engaging in sexual activity” last year, “which by all indications was completely consensual”.

Ansari goes on to confirm that the woman later text him to let him know that his advances had left her feeling “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 confused,” he says.

“I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking time to process what she had said.”

If you have experienced sexual harassment or assault, it’s not your fault and you are not alone. You can find practical advice about tackling harassment in the workplace by visiting the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website, or calling the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Equality Advisory and Support Service on 0808 800 0082.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, Victim Support and Rape Crisis provide support and resources. You can also call the RASAC (Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre) national helpline on 0800 0288 022.

Images: Rex Features