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George Takei has declared vindication today after a new story attempts to cast doubt on an accusation of sexual misconduct from 1981.
"As many of you know, this has been a very difficult period for myself and my husband Brad as we have dealt with the impact of these accusations, but we are happy to see that this nightmare is finally drawing to a close," he wrote, sharing the exclusive story by The Observer on his expansive social media accounts.
Writer Shane Snow published a lengthy defense of Takei on Thursday that transforms an accusation of sexual misconduct into a mere case of "making too bold a move on a date."
As the #MeToo movement was taking off in November, Scott Brunton told The Hollywood Reporter he'd had a run-in with famed Star Trek actor Takei. The article, "George Takei Accused of Sexually Assaulting Former Model in 1981," caused a substantial downturn for Takei's career and reputation.
The story published in The Observer is headlined, "Exclusive: George Takei's Accuser Has Changed His Story of Drugging and Assault." Still, much of what Brunton first said is still an accusation. The story is the writer's case that Takei was misunderstood all those years ago when caught undressing the sleeping man.
Snow points out that no other accuser has come forward to say Takei ever did anything inappropriate. That's unusual compared with prominent cases. Harvey Weinstein, the worst of all, now has more than 90 accusers.
"I resolved to find out more about what happened 36 years ago between two men late at night in an apartment, when no one else was around," writes Snow. "What I discovered after months of investigation--and after speaking at length with Brunton, people close to Takei, medical toxicologists and legal experts in sex offenses--suggests that this story needs to be recast significantly."
Snow claims, "Brunton, a sympathetic and well-intentioned man, would go on to walk back key details and let slip that, in his effort to be listened to, he'd fabricated some things."
Brunton hasn't changed his claim to have known Takei, having met in 1981 at a Los Angeles gay bar called Greg's Blue Dot Lounge. He still talks of Takei taking him out as a friend, drinking wine, and then heading back to his condo, where he had two drinks. Brunton still says the drinks were strong -- that he stood up and felt dizzy, then passed out only to wake to his pants being removed by Takei.
"I thought it was just I was drunk," Brunton told The Observer. It wasn't until years later when Brunton wondered whether he'd actually been drugged. Snow took a description of Brunton's symptoms to toxicology experts and Brunton is reportedly relieved by what was found. The experts said that if Brunton had been given Rohypnol, or "roofies," he'd have little memory of what happened, and that he wouldn't have been able to pull himself together and leave Takei's condo so quickly.
Snow contends there wasn't an assault because Brunton can't recall his penis being groped. Here's how Snow reports the clarifying moment:
I asked him to clarify the issue. "Did he touch your genitals?"
"You know...probably..." Brunton replied after some hesitation. "He was clearly on his way to...to...to going somewhere."
We shared a pause.
"So...you don't remember him touching your genitals?"
Brunton confessed that he did not remember any touching.
This is a departure from Brunton's account to The Hollywood Reporter. He'd originally said, "The next thing I remember I was coming to and he had my pants down around my ankles and he was groping my crotch and trying to get my underwear off and feeling me up at the same time, trying to get his hands down my underwear." Brunton still says Takei intended to remove his underwear, but he doesn't seem clear on whether his crotch had been grabbed.
That Takei would've been removing a passed out man's clothing isn't a big deal, suggests Snow. "People get drunk on dates and take off each other's pants all the time," one prosecutor is quoted as telling The Observer. Brunton has said that when he awoke and confronted Takei, the actor claimed to merely be making him "comfortable," not making a pass sexually.
The writer spends a lot of time picking apart Brunton's recollection of events as having happened too long ago to possibly remember clearly, noting "the first search page of Google for 'George Takei' contains headlines accusing the octogenarian of a sex crime that he claims to not remember, and his accuser admits to remembering imperfectly."
Snow concludes that Brunton has gone too far in accusing Takei of sexual misconduct.
"I don't fault Brunton for feeling wronged or for waiting all these years to cry foul," he writes. "And just because he is inconsistent in his accounts does not mean we should jump to the conclusion that none of this happened at all. Victims often change details, out of panic or memory fallibility."
The problem for Snow, though, is the incident doesn't seem worth the public shunning that Takei has experienced in some places. Mic.com reported last year that numerous advertisers stopped working with Takei on social media as a paid influencer. A lot of money is at stake, not to mention his place as a respected activist. Snow asks, "What should you get for something like Brunton says Takei did? For making too bold a move on a date who, it turned out, just wanted to be friends?"
For his part, Takei has never wavered in denying the accusation, saying he doesn't know Brunton.
"I have wracked my brain to ask if I remember Mr. Brunton, and I cannot say I do," wrote Takei on Twitter immediately after the accusation was first published.
Now Takei is declaring the story has cleared his name.
\u201cAs many of you know, this has been a very difficult period for myself and my husband Brad as we have dealt with the impact of these accusations, but we are happy to see that this nightmare is finally drawing to a close. https://t.co/nHCjnebCBO\u201d— George Takei (@George Takei) 1527268634
\u201cAs I stated before, I do not remember Mr. Brunton or any of the events he described from forty years ago, but I do understand that this was part of a very important national conversation that we as a society must have, painful as it might be.\u201d— George Takei (@George Takei) 1527268634
\u201cIt is in that spirit that I want folks to know, despite what he has put us through, I do not bear Mr. Brunton any ill will, and I wish him peace.\u201d— George Takei (@George Takei) 1527268634
\u201cBrad and I are especially grateful for the many fans who stood by me throughout this ordeal. Your support kept us going, and we are so immensely thankful for you.\u201d— George Takei (@George Takei) 1527268634