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Aziz Ansari Responds to Accusations of Sexual Assault

A photographer says the incident occurred on a date with the comedian in 2017

Amanda Bell

Master of None's Aziz Ansari is the latest actor to be accused of sexual assault.

After seeing him at the 2018 Golden Globes -- where he collected a statue for his work in the hit Netflix series while wearing a Time's Up pin -- a woman called "Grace" (a protective pseudonym for the accuser) spoke out to Babeabout her alleged disturbing experience with the actor last year.

Ansari issued a statement on Sunday confirming the basic details of Grace's story: that they met at a party, went out to dinner on a date and engaged in sexual activity, "which by all indications was completely consensual," Ansari wrote.

"The next day, I got a text from her saying that although 'it may have seemed okay,' upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable," the actor's statement continued. "It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said."

"I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue," Ansari concluded.

According to Grace, she first met Ansari at an Emmys after-party in 2017, shortly after his win for comedy writing, and the two initially bonded over their shared interest in vintage cameras. They exchanged information and later agreed to meet up for a date. After a rushed meal, Grace says Ansari took her to his apartment where he pressured her to escalate their physical contact beyond her comfort level.

Although she willingly engaged in some sexual contact with the actor, she claims to have repeatedly declined to engage in intercourse with Ansari and tried to decelerate the pace of their interactions. She also says that Ansari forced her hand onto his penis "five to seven times" despite her verbal and non-verbal cues that she was uncomfortable with the situation.

When Grace allegedly told Ansari, "I don't want to feel forced because then I'll hate you," she says the comedian initially seemed to understand and suggested they hang out near his couch. However, once they reached the couch, Grace says Ansari instructed her to perform oral sex on him. "And I did," Grace recalls. "I think I just felt really pressured. It was literally the most unexpected thing I thought would happen at that moment because I told him I was uncomfortable."

Later that evening, Grace alleges Ansari also bent her over in front of a mirror and rubbed his penis against her, miming intercourse. "After he bent me over is when I stood up and said no, I don't think I'm ready to do this, I really don't think I'm going to do this," Grace says.

According to Grace, the pair then sat down on the couch and Ansari put on an episode of Seinfeld. That was when Grace says the weight of the situation fully dawned on her. "It really hit me that I was violated," she told Babe. "I felt really emotional all at once when we sat down there. That that whole experience was actually horrible."

After Ansari once again allegedly attempted to revive sexual interactions, Grace announced she was leaving. The actor reportedly agreed to send her home in an Uber, provided she use his pseudonym of choice, "Essence." The next day, she says Ansari texted her pleasantries about enjoying meeting her and a light-hearted remark about cameras. To that, Grace says she answered: "Last night might've been fun for you, but it wasn't for me. You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances." Ansari then allegedly apologized in the text, writing, "Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I'm truly sorry."

Afterwards, Grace says she struggled with how to define the incident, which left her shaken. "It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault," Grace says. "I was debating if this was an awkward sexual experience or sexual assault. And that's why I confronted so many of my friends and listened to what they had to say, because I wanted validation that it was actually bad."

Although Grace hadn't initially planned to go public with her story, she says that she was spurred to speak out following Ansari's appearance at the Golden Globes. "It was actually painful to watch him win and accept an award and absolutely cringe-worthy that he was wearing the Time's Up pin. I think that started a new fire, and it kind of made it more real," she says. "I believe that I was taken advantage of by Aziz. I was not listened to and ignored. It was by far the worst experience with a man I've ever had."