Kenneth Lonergan, the writer-director behind Manchester By The Sea, is coming to the defense of actor Casey Affleck and himself after an article argued the director was complicit in the cover-up of the actor’s sexual harassment actions.
Affleck was accused of sexual harassment by two women in 2010. He denied the charges and eventually settled the civil lawsuits out of court.
Both Lonergan and Affleck took home Oscars for their emotional drama about a grieving man who reluctantly takes guardianship of his nephew following his brother’s death.
Following their wins last week, an article by Connor Aberle appeared in the university newspaper The Wesleyan Argus – a school which Lonergan briefly attended and has touted the director’s success. The article alleges that both the director and the university share the blame over Affleck’s alleged actions.
In the article, author Aberle claims Wesleyan University’s promotion of the success of the film and of Lonergan means the institution shares in the blame for “the success of a perpetrator of sexual violence.”
On Saturday, Lonergan wrote a rebuttal which appeared in the Connecticut university’s newspaper, calling the article and author Aberle slanderous and immoral.
In his op-ed, Lonergan calls the article, “Such a tangle of illogic, misinformation and flat-out slander that only the author’s presumed youth can possibly excuse his deeply offensive display of ignorance and warped PC-fuelled sense of indignation.”
Lonergan attacks Aberle, citing the circumstances of the lawsuit several years ago.
“[Aberle] writes as if Casey Affleck were actually guilty of a crime. In fact, it was alleged seven years ago, in a civil lawsuit for breach of contract, that Casey sexually harassed two women formerly in his employ. Casey denounced the allegations as being totally fabricated. Like most civil suits, this one was settled out of court by mutual consent on undisclosed terms.”
His rebuttal continues: “Somebody as interested in actual as opposed to merely vocalized social justice as Mr. Aberle presumably is, should unwind his tangled, immoral chain of reasoning and start over at the fundamental precept that an allegation is not an indictment,” he writes. “Nor can it be treated as such by any ethical person living in a democratic society supposedly based on the rule of law.”