A US news anchor named Ashleigh Banfield reprimanded Aziz Ansari’s sexual assault accuser live on air and described the allegations against the Master of None creator as “reckless and hollow.”
Ansari was accused of sexual assault last weekend by an anonymous 23-year-old photographer (referred to as ‘Grace’ for the interview) on the website babe.net. Aziz and ‘Grace’ went on a date during which ‘Grace’ said she felt “taken advantage of.”
“I was not listened to and ignored,” she stated. “It was by far the worst experience with a man I’ve ever had.” ‘Grace’ said that she used verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was during the date.
Banfield, who is a former CNN anchor, spoke on CNN spin-off channel HLN to deliver an open letter to the anonymous woman.
“I’m sorry you had a bad date,” Banfield said, going on to claim that the incident described by the accuser “wasn’t a rape, nor was it a sexual assault.” Banfield argued: “After protesting his moves, you did not get up and leave. You continued to engage in the sexual encounter.”
She continued: “Let me be completely clear: if you were sexually assaulted, you should go to the police right now. If you were sexually harassed, and your bad date, because of his actions, mitigated your ability to do your job, you should definitely speak up, and loud, because that’s happened to me too, and it stinks. But if you just had an unpleasant sexual experience, you should have gone home.
“What you have done, in my opinion, is appalling. You went to the press with a story of a bad date, and you have potentially destroyed this man’s career over it.”
The anchor also suggested that the allegations were deeply damaging to the #MeToo movement, saying: “You have chiseled away at a movement that I, along with all my sisters in the workplace, have been dreaming of for decades, a movement that has finally changed an oversexed professional environment that I, too, have struggled through at times over the last 30 years.”
“All the gains that have been achieved on your behalf and mine are now being compromised by allegations that are reckless and hollow,” she concluded.