Why this was the "moment to speak" for Louis C.K.'s sexual misconduct accusers

Louis C.K.'s accusers
Louis C.K.'s accusers 04:36

After years of rumors, five women decided to speak out. Three women interviewed by the New York Times, including one who wanted to remain anonymous, claimed renowned comedian Louis C.K. exposed himself and masturbated in front of them. A fourth woman said it happened over the phone, and a fifth woman said C.K. approached her and she declined.

While such allegations had circulated in the comedy community, New York Times culture reporter Melena Ryzik, who was one of the journalists to break the story, said the women "felt that this is the moment to speak."

"There is this movement, there is this sense of solidarity that their stories now will get support, will be heard, will be listened to in a way that they felt may not have been happening in years past," Ryzik said Friday on "CBS This Morning," a day after the publication of her report with colleagues Cara Buckley and Jodi Kantor.

In the past year, the New York Times has published bombshell reports of sexual misconduct accusations against former Fox News anchor Bill O'Reillymovie producer Harvey Weinstein and Silicon Valley venture capitalists. In the cases of O'Reilly and Weinstein, both men were removed from their powerful positions. The Weinstein reports sparked women across the country to speak out about harassment in everyday life in the #MeToo campaign on social media.

"We have had a tips line, NYTimes.com/tips, in which people are offering to share their stories. It's been very active. So we started to hear certain names pop up over and over and we began looking into them," Ryzik said.

Exposing sexual misconduct 08:39

She said several women received messages from C.K. or spoke to him over the phone where he "expressed feeling sorry for his behavior." She said some accepted his apology and forgave him.

"But you know, one of the things that's interesting about this behavior is that it really hits deeply, and an apology is a great move to make but it doesn't necessarily erase the pain or the trauma of the original experience," Ryzik said.

Asked whether some of the women in the report felt pressured not to come forward with their stories because they were working in the comedy industry, Ryzik responded, "I think so."

"Comedy like many fields is a male-dominated industry and there's an expectation especially if you're a comedian, a female comedian, that you can hang with it, you can take a dirty joke, you can be accepting of some raunch that would be out of place in most workplaces," Ryzik said.

Ryzik also said masturbation has been "definitely a theme in his work."

"He makes jokes about it on stage, he makes jokes about it in his TV show, it factors in his new movie that is due to be released next week. So definitely some of the women we spoke to thought that maybe his style of comedy was perhaps a way to mask the actual alleged misconduct," Ryzik said.

HBO announced it is pulling Louis C.K. material from its on-demand service and said the actor will no longer appear in an upcoming special. Meanwhile, the distributor of C.K.'s new movie, "I Love You, Daddy," said it will not be released, and Netflix announced they would not produce a second stand-up special with the comedian.

After the airing of Friday's "CBS This Morning" broadcast, Louis C.K. released this statement in response to the accusations: 

"I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.

These stories are true.  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. 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.  

I have been remorseful of my actions. And I've tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I'm aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.  I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn't want to hear it. I didn't think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it.  There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for.  And I have to reconcile it with who I am.  Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.  

I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work. 

The hardest regret to live with is what you've done to hurt someone else.  And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them. I'd be remiss to exclude the hurt that I've brought on people who I work with and have worked with who's professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this, including projects currently in production: the cast and crew of Better Things, Baskets, The Cops, One Mississippi, and I Love You Daddy. I deeply regret that this has brought negative attention to my manager Dave Becky who only tried to mediate a situation that I caused. I've brought anguish and hardship to the people at FX who have given me so much The Orchard who took a chance on my movie. and every other entity that has bet on me through the years.  I've brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother.

I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want.  I will now step back and take a long time to listen.   

Thank you for reading."