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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Action star Steven Seagal and comedian Louis CK accused of sexual harassment

Latest allegations add to growing scandal over treatment of women in US entertainment industry

Actress Portia de Rossi, left, has accused actor Steven Seagal of unzipping his pants while she was auditioning for a role in his office, although she did not say when the incident occurred. AFP and Valerie Macon / Getty Images  North America
Actress Portia de Rossi, left, has accused actor Steven Seagal of unzipping his pants while she was auditioning for a role in his office, although she did not say when the incident occurred. AFP and Valerie Macon / Getty Images North America

Action movie star Steven Seagal and comedian Louis CK have become the latest celebrities to be embroiled in mounting allegations of sexual misconduct in the US entertainment industry following the downfall of film producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey.

Portia de Rossi, the Arrested Development actress and wife of chat show queen Ellen DeGeneres, accused Seagal of making a lewd advance during an audition in his office.

"He told me how important it was to have chemistry off-screen as he sat me down and unzipped his leather pants," the Australian-born actress tweeted late Wednesday.

"I ran out and called my agent. Unfazed, she replied, 'well, I didn't know if he was your type'."

De Rossi did not say when the incident took place.

DeGeneres retweeted the post to her more than 75 million followers saying: "I'm proud of my wife."

Seagal's representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Actress Jenny McCarthy, who first accused Seagal in 1998, on Thursday revisited her encounter with the actor when auditioning for his 1995 movie Under Siege 2, when he allegedly asked her twice to lower her dress.

After telling him she had been told there was no nudity, Seagal allegedly replied "there is off-camera nudity". After refusing and running to her car, McCarthy said he followed her outside and told her not to tell anyone "or else".

Seagal's fame peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s with films such as Under Siege and Above the Law, although he remains popular in eastern Europe.

He was last year accorded Russian and Serbian citizenship, personally collecting his Russian passport from president Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin.

In a New York Times expose published on Thursday, five women accused comedian Louis CK of masturbating or asking to masturbate in front of them or doing so on the telephone in separate incidents dating from the late 1990s to 2005.

The premiere of CK's film I Love You, Daddy was abruptly cancelled after the report was published, and he pulled out of an appearance on CBS comedy chat show The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the Times reported.

CK's publicist, Lewis Kay, told the paper "Louis is not going to answer any questions".

His accusers told the paper that his behaviour was abusive.

"I think the line gets crossed when you take all your clothes off and start masturbating," said Julia Wolov, one half of the Chicago comedy duo Dana and Julia with Dana Min Goodman, who also accused him of misappropriate behaviour in his hotel room after their late-night show.

The other women to accuse CK in the Times report were comedians Abby Schachner and Rebecca Corry, while the fifth woman was not identified.

Hollywood's growing sexual harassment scandal prompted the Los Angeles County district attorney Jackie Lacey to announce the setting up of a task force to handle criminal complaints.

Also on Thursday, the industry group Women in Film announced Thursday that it planned to launch a helpline and panel of pro bono legal professionals to provide counselling, referrals and legal advice to harassment victims. The free service is expected to be available from December 1.

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