Sexual misconduct scandal

Director Morgan Spurlock admits to harassment

Film-maker Morgan Spurlock and his wife, Ms Sara Bernstein, at the Not The White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington, in April this year.
Film-maker Morgan Spurlock and his wife, Ms Sara Bernstein, at the Not The White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington, in April this year.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • American documentary film-maker Morgan Spurlock stepped down from his production company on Thursday, one day after he published a post saying he had engaged in sexual misconduct, including settling a harassment allegation and cheating on his wives and girlfriends.

An e-mailed statement from Warrior Poets said the decision was effective immediately and that the independent production company would be led by co-founder Jeremy Chilnick and another partner, Mr Matthew Galkin. It did not say whether his departure was permanent.

The announcement came after Spurlock posted a statement on Twitter late on Wednesday, saying: "As I sit around watching hero after hero, man after man, fall at the realisation of their past indiscretions, I don't sit by and wonder, 'who will be next?' I wonder, 'when will they come for me?'"

He wrote: "You see, I've come to understand after months of these revelations, that I am not some innocent bystander, I am also a part of the problem."

Spurlock, 47, was propelled to fame by his 2004 documentary assault on fast food, Super Size Me, in which he gained 11kg while eating nothing but McDonald's food for a month.

In his post, he reflected on the details of an encounter when he was a student in college. In that account, he said he "hooked up" with a woman who later wrote a short story for a class about it, accusing him by name of rape. He said he was "floored" when a friend told him about the woman's short story.

He said that the two had gone back to his room after a night of drinking. In his account, he said they "started having sex" although she had pushed him off while "fooling around" and saying she did not want to. At one point, she started to cry.

"I didn't know what to do," Spurlock wrote. "We stopped having sex and I rolled beside her. I tried to comfort her. To make her feel better. I thought I was doing okay, I believed she was feeling better. She believed she was raped. That's why I'm part of the problem."

In recent months, amid a relentless series of revelations, many high-profile men in the entertainment, news, restaurant and other industries have been fired or forced to resign.

Spurlock appears to be an unusual case because he has opened up about his behaviour before any public accusation.

In his statement, he also said that about eight years ago, he settled a sexual harassment allegation for calling his assistant "hot pants" or "sex pants" from across the room in the office.

"Something I thought was funny at the time, but then realised I had completely demeaned and belittled her to a place of non-existence," he wrote.

He said he had been unfaithful to every wife and girlfriend he has had.

He married Ms Sara Bernstein, senior vice-president of HBO's documentary arm, in April last year and they have a one-year-old son. He was previously married to chef Alex Jamieson from 2006 to 2011 and with whom he has an 11-year-old son.

He tried to examine the reasons for his actions. He said he was sexually abused as a boy and, as a teenager, struggled with daily depression and had been consistently drinking since the age of 13.

He said that he hoped, by openly admitting what he had done, that he could change for the better. "I'm finally ready to listen," he said.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2017, with the headline 'Director Morgan Spurlock admits to harassment'. Print Edition | Subscribe