Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Over the weekend, George Takei denied former model Scott Brunton’s claims that the Star Trek actor had sexually assaulted him. This was after Brunton told The Hollywood Reporter that in 1981, Takei invited him over to his home following a night out, where he undressed and groped Brunton while he was inebriated and in and out of consciousness. Takei later tweeted that while he was taking the allegations seriously, he was also categorically denying them. “Those that know me understand that non-consensual acts are so antithetical to my values and my practices, the very idea that someone would accuse me of this is quite personally painful,” Takei wrote.

But, as has been the case with these disclosures, there are already new, disturbing wrinkles. The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets have picked up on resurfaced audio from an October 2017 interview with Howard Stern, in which Takei did admit that he had grabbed the crotches of men he saw as “kind of skittish, or maybe, um, uh, afraid, and you’re trying to persuade.” Stern and Takei had been discussing the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault and harassment allegations, with the actor bemoaning the lack of consequences for Donald Trump, who managed to win the 2016 presidential election despite having bragged on air about sexually assaulting women.

Stern then asked Takei if he’d ever grabbed a man’s genitals against his will. After a long pause, the actor said “Uh oh” and laughed. When pressed by Stern, Takei made the “skittish” remarks, at which point Stern asked “Do we need to call the police?” Robin Quivers, Stern’s co-host, asked Takei if he’d ever asked anyone who worked for him for sex, which he denied. When asked if any of the groping he’d just admitted to had happened at work, Takei replied “It was either in my home. They came to my home.”

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Takei has not weighed in on this latest development, but as Uproxx reports, he offered up a bizarre theory for why the sexual assault claim against him has gained traction: Russian bots. In a now-deleted tweet and Facebook post, Takei claimed his anti-Putin and Trump views provoked some convenient subterfuge. But this “Russia did it” rebuttal isn’t faring any better as an explanation than Takei’s “groping as persuasion” premise.

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