Actress Aurora Perrineau has accused Girls writer and executive producer Murray Miller of sexual assault, which Miller denied via a statement from his lawyer. The allegations come at a particularly fraught time for Hollywood. Over the last few years, there have been numerous high-profile cases regarding sexual misconduct, raising big questions about abuse and the culture that enables it.
In recent months, those questions have amplified. In October, The New York Times published an explosive exposé alleging Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed and abused women for decades, and upwards of 50 women have since accused the film mogul of varying degrees of harassment. (Weinstein denied all claims of rape via his lawyer.) The story acted as a floodgate, and similar allegations against prominent figures like Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and Brett Ratner have continued to pour out in the weeks following.
Now, The Wrap has reported that Perrineau filed a police report against Miller with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Friday. She alleges Miller raped her in 2012, when she was 17 and Miller was 35. Miller’s attorney, Matthew Walerstein, told the outlet he “categorically and vehemently denies" Perrineau's claims, and that his legal team had “gathered overwhelming evidence directly contradicting these false and offensive claims.” Perrineau's credits include last year's Passengers, Kristen Stewart indie Equals, and the upcoming Blumhouse horror film Truth or Dare. Outside of Girls, Miller has produced for series including Stacked, King of the Hill, and American Dad!.
The allegations are especially notable given Miller's work on Girls, a show whose team has long prided themselves as both feminists and staunch advocates of safe spaces. In response, co-showrunners Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner provided a statement to Variety defending Miller. It reads:
“It’s a hugely important time of change and, like every feminist in Hollywood and beyond, we celebrate. But during every time of change there are also incidences of the culture, in its enthusiasm and zeal, taking down the wrong targets. We believe, having worked closely with him for more than half a decade, that this is the case with Murray Miller. While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3% of assault cases that are misreported every year. It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we’ll be saying about this issue.”
It's a surprising stance. Dunham, in particular, has been outspoken about supporting women's voices. In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, she penned an op-ed for The New York Times urging men to take more action, and as recently as August, she tweeted, "Things women do lie about: what they ate for lunch. Things women don't lie about: rape."
Of course, details about Perrineau's case are still unfolding, but many people have begun to call Dunham out on social media for seemingly going back on her beliefs because the alleged abuser is someone she knows personally. For now, no further information is available, but it will be interesting to see how (or if) Dunham addresses the criticism.