James Deen Responds To Rape Allegations: “I Am Completely Baffled”

Just over a week after Stoya tweeted that ex-boyfriend James Deen had raped her, setting off a chain reaction of similar sexual assault allegations from other women within the adult film industry, Deen is finally speaking out in an interview with The Daily Beast. While he had already tweeted a short legally-worded denial, his lengthy interview with Aurora Snow — an adult performer who has had good experiences working with Deen and has been covering the story for the site — has Deen addressing the specific allegations against him. His responses to Snow’s inquiries can, for the most part, be summed up thusly: “She’s lying, she’s lying, she’s lying, she’s lying.” For the record, I still do not believe him.

Deen tells Snow he is “baffled” by the allegations against him, stating that “all of the accusations are from either ex-girlfriends or events that happened on set” as if that somehow makes them less believable. (And, to be clear, Deen is incorrect – one of the accusers, T.M., says she was raped by Deen at a party in Las Vegas.) Deen paints Stoya as either an unhinged and jealous ex-girlfriend or a cold and calculating business woman, suggesting that her motivation for accusing him of rape “could be as simple as her finding out that my current girlfriend and I are moving in together” or “to drive traffic to her website.” What the interview does not address is that Stoya did not suddenly claim that Deen raped her. Stoya had in fact told certain friends about the assault befoe, including a few women I know and respect who contacted me immediately to vouch for her as friend as trustworthy. While it’s unclear whether anything specific happened on November 28th to make Stoya come forward, the notion that she made up these allegations on the fly is false.

Deen also provided to The Daily Beast raw video footage from a scene Deen and Stoya shot together (which they could not post, but did describe), where she can apparently be seen telling him to stop, with him stopping immediately. “Please bear in mind this is unreleased raw footage from a scene Stoya hired me for far after this incident supposedly occurred,” Deen said, implying that Stoya’s decision to continue to associate and film with him makes her allegations of rape untrue. However, there is no right or wrong way for a rape victim to respond after an attack, and Stoya was clear in her interview with the Guardian that it took her a while to come to terms with and to directly name Deen’s assault for what it was — rape. To imply that she couldn’t be telling the truth because she continued to associate with him for a period of time is victim-blaming and gross.

Deen went on to hold up this scene as evidence of him respecting Stoya’s consent. “In it I feel you can see it is very clear when someone expresses discomfort or needs to enter back into reality. When that happens, everything stops and before sex can continue everyone’s comfort must be reestablished.” However, just because he respected Stoya’s consent in this instance does not make it impossible for him to have violated her consent on another occasion. My point is, rapists don’t rape ALL THE TIME. Pointing to an occasion where he did not rape someone is not evidence that he never did rape that person or anyone else.

Of Joanna Angel’s claims that Deen was emotionally, psychologically and physically abusive to her during their six-year relationship, Deen is quick to say that her stories are exaggerations and inaccuracies — but then admits that he was “an emotionally insensitive boyfriend” who was “immature” and “an overall jerk.” He doesn’t dispute any of Angel’s specific claims, but seems content to sweep them under the rug as “shitty boyfriend” behavior for which he has “publicly apologized many times.” Since the allegations against Deen went public, I have been contacted by three additional people (two women, one man) I know and respect who vouched for Angel’s trustworthiness, saying they had been privy to her allegations for quite awhile.

Of T.M.’s claim that Deen raped her at a party following the AVN Awards, he offered up this sack of flaming bullshit: “This party mentioned is an invitation-only BDSM swinger’s party in Vegas. I don’t want to go into specifics but I can assure you that this description is not a true reflection of the events in question.” Don’t you see? It was a SWINGER’S PARTY (or so he claims)! People have sex at swinger’s parties! You can’t rape anyone at a swinger’s party! By Deen’s logic, walking in the door at a sex party qualifies as consent. Newsflash: IT. DOES. NOT. It is irrelevant if the party T.M. was attending was a swinger’s party. For Deen to suggest that this is somehow a factor in determining whether she was raped is nothing less than classic rape apologia.

From there, Deen proceeds to either deny or justify or talk in circles around the allegations made by the other porn performers who say they were assaulted on set. In a few cases, he doesn’t actually outright deny the allegations, and instead seemingly tries to justify how the assaults could have been part of standard, acceptable on-set behavior. For example, in regards to Ashley Fires’ allegation that Deen tried to rape her in the communal bathroom at Kink.com’s studios and that “he was so out of line and entitled with my body,” Deen’s only denial is to say he does not feel entitled to a woman’s body. Then he goes on to describe what things are like on a typical porn set, a tactic he uses throughout the interview as a way of suggesting that the rules for consent are different there than they are in real life.

“Productions try to maintain a delicate balance of professionalism and fun. Most directors don’t want to document sterile intercourse—they want to create erotic material. This cannot be achieved without comfortable models who have sexual desires for one another. However, like I previously said, what stops everything is when someone objects or states discomfort.”

The problem, of course, is that these women are claiming that Deen did not respect their boundaries, their requests for him to stop and their “no” lists. What Deen sees as “fun” is very clearly not fun for these women, and his response to them expressing their objections to his behavior on those occasions, both at the time and NOW, is to do the opposite of what he says above. Tori Lux says he did not stop when she said “no” and instead “proceeded to straddle my chest … [and] he raised his hand high above his head, swinging it down and hitting me in the face and head with an open palm. He did this five or six times—hard—before finally getting off of me.” Kora Peters says Deen did not stop when, knowing anal was on her “no” list, he “kept trying to get inside my ass but I kept pushing him away, so he choked me, then he slammed my face down into the couch and forced himself in my ass anyway.”

Instead, Deen characterizes these allegations as “descriptions of things on BDSM or rough sex sets,” and tries to make the “intricacies” of the dynamic on set sound too complicated for the average plebe to understand if they haven’t been in that environment themselves. But consent is consent, whether you’re in a bed with your significant other of many years, or on the set of a porn film. And regardless, the women making these allegations HAVE been on porn sets, and they are all saying the same thing — that James Deen violated their boundaries, their consent, and their bodies. At one point, Deen described Kink.com’s Armory — where some performers practically lived, including one of the accusers, Nicki Blue — as a “non-stop sexual environment.” Here, as with the “swinger’s party” in Las Vegas, Deen is crafting a scenario in which consent is given when you walk in the door. Deen, for all his talk about consent in nearly every godforsaken WWJDD column, exhibits a very poor understanding of consent in this interview, especially as it applies to his fellow porn performers. Within the context of BDSM, James Deen is a dominant. For his many of his on-screen costars/submissives to be saying that their consent was violated, that their safe words were not respected and that their boundaries were crossed should, at the very least, serve as a wakeup call to Deen that he is DOING SOMETHING VERY, VERY WRONG.

One thing I noticed throughout Deen’s interview — he rather craftily blames the media for “distorting” the allegations against him when, in fact, the vast majority of media outlets have been quoting the victims verbatim. By insinuating that the media is to blame, Deen is able to deny the allegations against him without directly stating that the women making those allegations are lying. I’m not a legal expert by any means, but this strikes me a deliberate and calculated way of avoiding being sued for defamation or slander (as Bill Cosby has been by three of his accusers).

There’s a lot more I could parse in Deen’s interview with the Daily Beast, from his bullshit justifications for making rape jokes to his claim that “multiple women have told me journalists have offered them up to five thousand dollars for stories about me,” because women will totally cry rape for a few months of rent money, right? Instead, I’ll suggest you read it for yourself, if you can stomach it. And for the record, I absolutely still stand in solidarity with Stoya, Joanna Angel, Tori Lux, and every other woman who has been brave enough to come forward with her story. I BELIEVE YOU. WE BELIEVE YOU.

[The Daily Beast]