A US comedian on Friday admitted sexual misconduct and expressed remorse after being accused of masturbating in front of women, a rare statement of contrition in the midst of Hollywood's burgeoning sexual harassment scandal.
Father of two Louis C.K. released the statement to US media as his became the latest career to unravel following separate assault allegations that have disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey.
"These stories are true," said the 50-year-old comedian in the statement released a day after America's most prestigious newspaper published accusations from the women saying that he masturbated or asked to masturbate in front of them or on the telephone in separate incidents dating from the late 1990s to 2005.
"At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true," said the award-winning stand-up comedian, actor and writer.
"But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn't a question. It's a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me.
"And I wielded that power irresponsibly," he said.
While the comedian did not explicitly apologise, he said in his statement: "I have been remorseful of my actions."
It was the most frank public admission of guilt from an accused man since the scandal harassment scandal broke in early October, disgracing not just Weinstein and Spacey but implicating directors such as James Toback and 1980s action star Steven Seagal.
Dumped by Netflix
Louis C.K. said there was "nothing about this that I forgive myself for" and claimed he could "hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought" on the women and colleagues with whom he has worked, now impacted by the scandal.
The comedian's accusers told the Times that his behavior had been abusive.
On Friday his career went into free-fall as the distributor of his new movie "I Love You, Daddy" said it would not go ahead with its release and HBO dropped him from a comedy benefit concert due to air next week, the Times reported.
Netflix announced that it was abandoning a second stand-up special featuring the star in the wake of what it called his "unprofessional and inappropriate behavior with female colleagues." The first had debuted in April.
FX Networks, which has produced five shows with the star, said it was "very troubled by the allegations" and said "the matter is currently under review."
The accusations were met with horror by C.K.'s admirers, many of them liberal, elite coastal Americans who appreciated his irony, his jokes about hypocrisy and considered him a supporter of women's rights.
"How do women still go out with guys when you consider the fact that there is no greater threat to women than men?" the comedian had joked in one stand-up segment about dating. "We're the number one threat."