The allegations against Russell Brand are “only the start of it” a female comedian has claimed.
Vix Leyton, who is a stand-up comedian and host of the podcast Comedy Arcade, said women in comedy were “all braced for it” when the claims against Brand were made public. The 48-year-old has been accused of rape, sexual assault and abuse by four women between 2006 and 2013.
One of the women alleges she was just 16 and still at school when Brand, who was then 31, dated her for three months. She claims he would refer to her as “the child”, control what she wore and once “forced his penis down her throat”. A second woman claims to have been raped by Brand at his LA home. A third woman, who used to work for Brand, alleges he attacked her at his LA house and threatened to take legal action against her if she ever reported it. A fourth woman describes being sexually assaulted by Brand, who she also claims was physically and emotionally abusive.
The allegations were made public following a joint investigation by The Times and Channel 4 ’s Dispatches and the documentary Russell Brand: In Plain Sight aired on TV on Saturday night. Brand has since released a YouTube video denying the claims. He said he “absolutely refutes” the serious allegations and that his relationships had “absolutely always been consensual”.
Youtube/ Russell Brand)
But writing an opinion piece for The Independent, female comedian Ms Leyton said she had “lost count” of how many messages she had received along the lines of “just a heads up about X”, referring to other male comics or men working in the industry. She stopped short of naming names, but said the messages related to things like “lift shares a promoter has arranged for me involving being in a car with someone I’ve never met”. And she said women in comedy would “check-in” with each other to make sure they were OK.
Ms Leyton claimed responsibility was wrongly being placed on women who had heard rumours and were “quietly protecting each other but were deemed to have not taken enough action to prevent this kind of alleged behaviour”.
Saying “My God are we so tired,” she explained: “Rumours are exactly that unless you hear directly from the victim. With that in mind, it is very difficult to go ‘on the record’ with any information you have received. There is a risk to you for sharing it from a legal standpoint, particularly where you know the person in question has power or money. There is also a risk to the person the information pertains to, if somewhere along the way a detail was misconstrued, and also the victims whose story isn’t yours to tell.”
She said women who had spoken out had faced “intense scrutiny” and pointed out “many moments heralded as comedy’s answer to ‘Time’s Up’ with names named… only to see those whose time was allegedly up gigging again months later”. “So we do what we can in smaller ways, through DMs and conversations in green rooms,” she added.
Claiming the allegations have only been taken seriously because male comedian Daniel Sloss – who often speaks out on problematic male behaviour – had taken part in the Dispatches programme, Ms Leyton said it was a “depressing indictment of how, despite all the talk of time being up, a lot of people didn’t want to believe women, particularly when they’re accusing people they admire – and only starting listening when a man spoke about it”. She added it was a “horrible time to be a woman in comedy at the moment” and claimed the most “depressing part” is when the furore over the Brand incident has died down and “we know that very little will have changed”.
Brand said: “I’ve received two extremely disturbing letters or a letter and an email. One from a mainstream media TV company, one from a newspaper listing a litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks, as well as some pretty stupid stuff like community festival should be stopped, that I shouldn’t be able to attack mainstream media narratives on this channel.
“But amidst this litany of astonishing rather baroque attacks, often very serious allegations that I absolutely refute. These allegations pertain to the time when I was working in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies. And as I’ve written about extensively in my books, I was very, very promiscuous.
“Now, during that time of promiscuity, the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual. I was always transparent about that. Then almost too transparent, and I’m being transparent about it now as well. And to see that transparency metastasized into something criminal that I absolutely deny makes me question, is there another agenda at play?”
The Mirror has reached out to Brand’s reps for further comment.
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