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Russell Brand accused of rape, sexual assault; star 'absolutely' denies claims

Russell Brand speaks at the opening of The Trew Era Cafe, a social enterprise community project on the New Era estate in east London, Thursday, 26 March, 2015. The opening of the cafe coincides with the trade paperback publication date of 'Revolution', and Brand will be donating 100% of his money for the book to the Cafe.(Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
Russell Brand in east London in 2015. (Joel Ryan / Invision / Associated Press)

Comedian and actor Russell Brand has been accused of rape, sexual assault and other abusive behavior during the height of his Hollywood fame.

In a joint investigation published Saturday by the Times of London and "Dispatches," a news program on Britain's Channel 4, numerous women allege that they were sexually assaulted by Brand between 2006 and 2013, during which time he rose from eccentric British TV personality to debauched Hollywood star.

Brand preemptively denied the allegations in a video posted to his YouTube channel Friday, saying that he refuted the "very, very serious criminal allegations" about to come out against him. Brand, who has refashioned himself as an antiestablishment commentator and given a platform to conspiracy theories about vaccines and the 9/11 attacks, said he was being targeted by the "mainstream media" because of his views. (The Times of London is owned by Rupert Murdoch.)

"The relationships I had were absolutely, always consensual. I was always transparent about that then. Almost too transparent, and I'm being transparent now," he said. "To see that transparency metastasized into something criminal that I absolutely deny, makes me question: Is there another agenda at play?"

In the Times article, one woman alleges she was raped by Brand while pinned against a wall at his Los Angeles home in 2012 — a time he was focused on building his showbiz career via film roles and an FX talk show called "Brand X." Medical records provided to the Times of London indicate she was treated at a rape crisis center the next day. Images of text messages, included in the report, show that Brand sent a text message apologizing for his "crazy and selfish" behavior. Former colleagues quoted in the piece claim that Brand treated his crew members as "pimps" who helped him procure sex and that he often behaved in inappropriate ways in the workplace.

Another woman alleges that she became involved with Brand when she was 16 and he was 31, and that he referred to her as "the child" in their relationship. According to the woman, Brand reportedly forced his penis down her throat, making it difficult to breathe, and she fought him off by punching him in the stomach.

A third woman, who met Brand in Alcoholics Anonymous and later worked with him, said Brand sexually assaulted her at his West Hollywood property before a group meeting in 2013. When the woman began to tell friends what had allegedly happened, Brand reportedly threatened to take legal action against her.

The Times of London story also includes other allegations of workplace misconduct and inappropriate comments by Brand, who cultivated a lascivious comedic persona and has sought treatment for sex addiction.

A 90-minute special episode of "Dispatches," called "Russell Brand: In Plain Sight," is scheduled to air Saturday on Channel 4 in the U.K. Sharp-eyed viewers noticed a listing for a special "about Russell Brand’s treatment of women" Friday, leading to online chatter.

Brand got his start in British TV and became known in the United States by playing louche rock star Aldous Snow in the 2008 film "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and the spinoff buddy comedy "Get Him to the Greek." After a short-lived marriage to pop star Katy Perry and a failed late-night show on FX, his star dimmed and he pivoted to political activism and commentary in the U.K.

Brand initially embraced more liberal views, protesting austerity measures, insulting nationalist politician Nigel Farage on TV and appearing in a documentary about his newfound activism. But since 2020, Brand has found a new niche as a contrarian influencer, "free-thinking" pundit and online talking head who has broadcast and endorsed numerous debunked ideas. He amassed a large following on YouTube (and later Rumble, an alternative streaming platform) by posting videos in which he railed against COVID-19 lockdowns, Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci and "the globalist master plan" and other right-wing bugbears. In July, he interviewed Tucker Carlson — the first interview the Fox News star has given since he was fired from the network in April.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.