It’s been eight months since reports emerged about a number of allegations against actor and comedian Chris D’Elia, with multiple women (including several who were underage at the time) coming forward to state that D’Elia had harassed them, requested sexual favors from them, or, in a few cases, threatened them into silence via e-mail. In the wake of the allegations, D’Elia—then fresh off a stint on Netflix’s You—issued a short statement in which he claimed that, “I have never knowingly pursued any underage women at any point. All of my relationships have been both legal and consensual.” He also noted that “I was a dumb guy who ABSOLUTELY let myself get caught up in my lifestyle,” although which lifestyle D’Elia meant wasn’t necessarily clear at the time. Then he dropped off the radar—until today, when he issued a 10-minute statement on YouTube that attempted to re-center the narrative around himself in some very familiar ways.
D’Elia begins the video by re-iterating his claims that every sexual encounter he’s been involved in has been “legal and consensual,” before proceeding to lay out a very familiar story, one in which the man in question is framed, not as a predator, but as the self-effacing victim of his own irresistible urges and addictions. Stumbling, and with a presentation of quiet sincerity, the comedian never quite names himself as a sex addict, but does detail a pattern in behavior in which it “controlled his life,” and in which he would email fans, basically nightly, in pursuit of sex. (D’Elia pointedly does not note whether the multiple women he wrote to every night initiated the sexual aspects of these conversations first.) Addressing the question of “the power dynamic”—i.e., the argument that a man in a position of fame and influence should be careful not to abuse those same qualities when involving himself (and especially involving himself sexually) in the life of a fan with considerably less power—D’Elia gets it exactly half-right, noting that “It’s okay until it’s not.” (“I would use the familiarity” he admits, that the women had with him as fans, in order to have sex with them.) And while he apologizes for “being flippant with people,” he frames all of these events as though the central issue was the quantity of women he was having sex with, and not the underlying behavior of pursuing and initiating sex with fans.
D’Elia does tacitly acknowledge that many of the messages that showed up online last year were genuine—stating, in fact, that “There’s way more than that.” He also issues an apology to the people in his immediate life who were hurt by his behaviors, once again framing the topic as one of infidelity and addiction, rather than of mis-used power. He ends the video by noting that he’s now been on this “path of recovery” for several months.