Getting trapped in a toxic he-said/she-said is one of the most common and infuriating issues of reporting sexual misconduct.
In the #MeToo movement, this pattern has often played out on a national (or even global) stage, with perpetrators trying to downplay their actions through wishy-washy apologies. In some cases, the sheer number of accusers is enough to break the cycle. Unfortunately, in the case of Rose McGowan and Alexander Payne, so far it’s a case of her word vs. his in the decades-old incident.
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The Sideways director wrote a guest column for Deadline to refute McGowan’s accusation that he had sex with her when she was just 15 years old — which of course would have been statutory rape.
According to Payne, the timeline the actress proposed was impossible as he was a film student at UCLA from 1984-1990; he also claimed he knows that their “paths never crossed” during this period. He continued:
“She claims that I showed her a ‘soft-core porn movie’ I had directed for Showtime ‘under a different name.’ This would have been impossible, since I had never directed anything professionally, lurid or otherwise. I have also never worked for Showtime or directed under any name other than my own.”
He went on to allege that they did meet in 1991 at an audition for a “comic short” he was making for the Playboy Channel series. Though the Charmed actress wasn’t cast, he said she “left a note for [him] at the casting desk” asking him to call her, which led to “a couple of dates.” He also claims they left it on friendly terms.
If we are keeping track of the timeline here, McGowan would have been 17 or 18 at the oldest while dating the then-30-year-old Payne. He claims she needed to be “of age” to even audition for the role, so he “had no reason to question how old she was.”
He concluded his statement:
“While I cannot allow false statements about events twenty-nine years ago to go uncorrected, I will continue to wish only the best for Rose.”
Unsurprisingly, the outspoken McGowan had something to say about Payne’s denial. Asked for comment by Variety, she said:
“F**k him and his lies is my comment.”
“I told Payne to acknowledge and apologize, he has not. I said I didn’t want to destroy, now I do. Why do these men always lie? I will now make it a mission to expose him. I am not the only one.”
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The 46-year-old then went on to condemn Payne’s award-winning work, warning the public against absorbing what she clearly sees as harmful content. She explained:
“I want people that have watched his films to know his morals are in your mind, his thoughts have become yours. Like in his ‘comedy’ Election, where the middle-aged teacher that fantasizes having sex with his young student, Reese Witherspoon. I want people to know Hollywood perpetrators show you who they are, their skewed view normalized. Men like Predator Payne, who profited from working [with] Weinstein, must be stopped from not only assaulting, but must also be prevented from infecting the masses with their propaganda.”
Whoa. We previously noted some similarity in look between young Rose and young Reese in the film. Rose is definitely giving film buffs something to think about there.
Although Payne declined to comment further on Rose’s response, we have a feeling this won’t be the last we hear of this story.
[Image via WENN, Avalon & Brian To/Paramount/YouTube.]
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