Celebrities, Aware weigh in on sexual harassment claims against DJ Dee Kosh; police looking into claims


SINGAPORE - Several celebrities have waded into the discussion surrounding the sexual harassment allegations against Dee Kosh, as the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) expressed support for those who have spoken up against the YouTuber.

The 32-year-old radio deejay and YouTuber, whose real name is Darryl Ian Koshy, has been accused of soliciting nude pictures and offering money to minors in return for sexual favours, among other things.

The Straits Times understands that six police reports have been filed so far. The police said that investigations are ongoing.

Accusations of sexual harassment surfaced over the weekend against Dee Kosh, who has 380,000 followers on his YouTube channel and is known for food reviews on the Night Owl Cinematics YouTube channel. Screenshots of his chats with at least five alleged victims were posted online, leading Dee Kosh to apologise on Monday for the "questionable" tone of one of his chats with a 15-year-old boy.

The case has prompted discussions about the sexual abuse of minors - it is an offence to have sex with someone below 16 years old even if he or she consents.

Aware asserted in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Aug 19) that it is "categorically wrong to engage a minor in sexual conversation".

"In fact, in any situation that involves a clear power differential between parties - due to an age gap, fame or professional position - consent becomes grey (at best). That should be apparent to anyone, particularly an adult, with a decent grasp of consent."

Aware also commended those who have spoken up: "We know how difficult it can be for men in particular to come forward about situations of abuse and exploitation, thanks to misguided societal ideas relating to homosexuality and machismo.

"It is not easy, as well, to call out a powerful public figure and stand your ground in the face of gaslighting and threats of litigation."

After the allegations surfaced online last Saturday, Koshy engaged a lawyer to issue a cease-and-desist letter to an alleged victim, who was the first to publicly accuse him. The victim took down the posts.

Besides Aware, several local celebrities have also commented on the case.

Siblings Benjamin and Narelle Kheng from The Sam Willows expressed solidarity with the alleged victims on their Instagram Stories on Tuesday.

Benjamin Kheng noted that it took an "incredible amount of courage" for survivors of sexual offences to speak up, adding that his heart "goes out to anyone in that position who can't yet find a safe space to speak about it".

Acknowledging that Koshy is his friend, he said: "I pray that the truth will surface in full, and that he'll understand the gravity of his actions. I want him to do better."

Narelle Kheng in turn wrote: "Imbalance of power is what allows for abuse."

Singer Nathan Hartono, who had Koshy on his weekly Good Hang podcast twice before, announced on Instagram on Wednesday that he would be discussing "everything that's going on with Dee Kosh" on the next podcast on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Hartono posted an Instagram Story sharing Koshy's apology. In response to a comment from a user saying he had "zero spine", he wrote: "I choose to withhold any opinion until I understand the full story."

He added: "Should I personally feel like he is wrong, after finding out the whole truth, I will be there for him on the path towards healing and improvement. Because that's what friends do for each other."

The accusations against Koshy have also affected at least one person who has worked closely with him.

On Wednesday, comedian and YouTube personality Hirzi Zulkiflie, 31, apologised on Facebook for how he and Dee Kosh had mocked social influencer Nicole Choo in two of their videos in 2018, after the then 19-year-old had published a poetry collection titled Nineteen.

The apology came after Ms Eliza Teoh of Bubbly Books, which had published Choo's book, called them out in Facebook post on Tuesday, for the "sexist nature of their comments" against Choo and the way "they incited hatred towards her".

Ms Teoh revealed that Choo went overseas for a few months to stay with a friend "because it came to a point where she was physically afraid" of trolls.

In his apology post, Hirzi admitted that his actions amounted to cyber-bullying and that Choo "did not just face the careless brunt of our hurtful remarks, but our followers were enabled by our actions".

He said: "I take full responsibility for what I put Nicole through. I also request that my followers are accountable. If anyone has bombarded her with comments that demeaned her, let's hold ourselves responsible for the weight of our words."

When contacted on Wednesday, three firms that Dee Kosh previously worked with, Huawei, Foodpanda and Lenovo said their engagements with him had ended and there were no ongoing or future projects planned. On Monday, Power 98 FM, where he hosts weekday night shows, said he is on leave and that the station "does not tolerate any form of harassment".

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