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People Are Infuriated by Lena Dunham's Response to Sexual Assault Allegations Against Murray Miller

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Update: On Saturday, November 18, Lena Dunham issued an apology via Twitter regarding the statement released on Friday.

Her full statement:

As feminists, we live and die by our politics, and believing women is the first choice we make every single day when we wake up. Therefore I never thought I would issue a statement publically [sic] supporting someone accused of sexual assault, but I naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend’s situation as it has transpired behind the scenes over the last few months. I now understand that it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement and I am so sorry. We have been given the gift of powerful voices and by speaking out we were putting our thumb on the scale and it was wrong. We regret this decision with every fiber of our being.

Every woman who comes forward deserves to be heard, fully and completely, and our relationship to the accused should not be part of the calculation anyone makes when examining her case. Every person and every feminist should be required to hear her. Under patriarchy, “I believe you” is essential. Until we are all believed, none of us will be believed. We apologize to any women who have been disappointed.

“Girls” creator and actress Lena Dunham is defending Murray Miller, a former executive producer and writer on the show, amid sexual assault accusations.

On Friday, The Wrap reported that actress Aurora Perrineau filed a police report in Los Angeles against Miller accusing him of sexually assaulting her in 2012 when she was 17. Miller’s attorney, Matthew B. Walerstein, denied the “outrageous claims,” in a statement to Variety:

After being contacted several weeks ago by lawyers who—on Ms. Perrineau’s behalf—sought substantial monetary damages from him, Mr. Miller’s legal team gathered overwhelming evidence directly contradicting these false and offensive claims. Only after her demands for money were rebuffed did Ms. Perrineau go to the police. Mr. Miller looks forward to sharing all evidence and information with any and all authorities seeking the truth in this matter.

Despite vehemently defending the numerous women (and men) who have come forward in the last few weeks as sexual assault survivors, Dunham, with fellow showrunner Jenni Konner, released a statement Friday defending Miller and calling the allegations against him “one of the 3% of assault cases that are misreported every year.”

Their full statement reads:

During the windfall of deeply necessary accusations over the last few months in Hollywood, we have been thrilled to see so many women’s voices heard and dark experiences in this industry justified. It’s a hugely important time of change and, like every feminist in Hollywood and beyond, we celebrate. But during every time of change there are also incidences of the culture, in its enthusiasm and zeal, taking down the wrong targets. We believe, having worked closely with him for more than half a decade, that this is the case with Murray Miller. While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3% of assault cases that are misreported every year. It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we’ll be saying about this issue.

Amid immediate backlash online, Dunham, who is also a sexual assault survivor, then cryptically tweeted, “I believe in a lot of things but the first tenet of my politics is to hold up the people who have held me up, who have filled my world with love.”

The actress faced immediate backlash on Twitter.

Dunham has long championed sexual assault survivors. In August, two months before the New York Times broke its massive Harvey Weinstein story, and survivors’ #metoo movement picked up speed, she tweeted, “Things women do lie about: what they ate for lunch. Things women don’t lie about: rape.”

She’s also been lauded for “American Bitch,” an episode in the final season of “Girls” that showed her character, Hannah, at the apartment of a fictional author’s house discussing the dynamics of power, sexual assault and consent. One Twitter user brought this episode up as reason for their surprise in her response to Miller’s accusations.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/David Shankbone

Originally published: November 18, 2017
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