Lena Dunham says defending someone accused of sexual assault was her ‘greatest regret’

'There are few acts I could ever regret more in this life.'

The past year has been a reckoning for those in Hollywood, shining a light into the industry’s darkest places and exposing its culture of sexual harassment with the #MeToo movement. It has been incredible and both painful to watch as people like Salma Hayek, Natalie Portman, Anthony Rapp and Rose McGowan have come forwards to name their demons and share their own experiences. In the case of Girls showrunner Lena Dunham however, she sparked major controversy last year when she defended a writer on her show named Murray Miller after he allegedly raped actress Aurora Perrineau. Yesterday however, Lena has walked back her comments. In a new op-ed, Lena apologised to Aurora and also revealed that she had lied about having ‘insider information’ to the contrary.

Lena Dunham wrote a piece for The Hollywood Reporter called My Apology to Aurora, in which she addressed Perrineau’s accusations against Miller and Dunham’s following statement. Perrineau claimed last year to TheWrap that she had filed a report against Miller, accusing him of sexually assaulting her when she was 17 in 2012. (The Los Angeles Country Sherrif’s Department confirmed the case had been filed to The Hollywood Reporter.) Dunham said at the time that she had ‘insider knowledge of Murray’s situation’ that made Perrineau’s accusation ‘one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year.’

However Dunham said in her new piece that she had ‘made a terrible mistake’ in defending someone she ‘had loved as a brother’. She wrote, ‘When someone I knew, someone I had loved as a brother, was accused, I did something inexcusable: I publicly spoke up in his defense. There are few acts I could ever regret more in this life.’

‘I didn’t have the “insider information” I claimed but rather blind faith in a story that kept slipping and changing and revealed itself to mean nothing at all,’ she continued. ‘I wanted to feel my workplace and my world were safe, untouched by the outside world…I claimed that safety at cost to someone else, someone very special.’

Dunham’s initial statement in defense of Murray Miller was published in conjunction with her Girls co-creator Jenni Konner, however backlash quickly mounted against the pair. Some pointed out that it was hypocritical of Dunham, who previously tweeted out, ‘Things women do lie about: what they ate for lunch. Things women don’t lie about: rape.’

On the same day, Dunham later released a second statement in which she said, ‘I never thought I would issue a statement publically [sic] supporting someone accused of sexual assault, but I naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend’s situation as it has transpired behind the scenes over the last few months. I now understand that it was absolutely the wrong time to have come forward with such a statement….We regret this decision with every fiber of our being.’

Dunham went on to address Aurora Perrineau directly in her The Hollywood Reporter piece, saying, ‘To Aurora: You have been on my mind and in my heart every day this year. I love you. I will always love you. I will always work to right that wrong. In that way, you have made me a better woman and a better feminist. You shouldn’t have been given that job in addition to your other burdens, but here we are, and here I am asking: How do we move forward?’

She continued, ‘My job now is to excavate that part of myself and to create a new cavern inside me where a candle stays lit, always safely lit, and illuminates the wall behind it where these words are written: I see you, Aurora. I hear you, Aurora. I believe you, Aurora.’

Dunham also appeared to imply that she had spoken to Perrineau before writing the piece, saying that she had ‘generously allowed [her] to speak about your many virtues here and tell these readers that you are moving on as a woman and as an artist.’ We’ve reached out to Perrineau’s team for further clarification.

According to a statement via the BBC, Perrineau claimed that after a night out she woke up to find Murray Miller on top of her. She said, ‘He was on top of me having sexual intercourse with me. At no time did I consent to any sexual contact with Murray.’

Miller’s lawyer said in response, ‘Mr Miller categorically and vehemently denies Ms Perrineau’s outrageous claims.’

Lena Dunham also appeared publicly and spoke directly to Aurora Perrineau’s mother Brittany at the Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment Event. Brittany came as Dunham’s guest to the VIP gala according to The Hollywood Reporter and Dunham reiterated that standing by Murray Miller was her ‘greatest regret’.

Dunham continued, ‘With Brittany and Aurora’s love, forgiveness and bravery, it’s become my greatest moment of evolution and education. I learned to listen. I learned the ways in which my own heart and mind had been colonized by the patriarchy, and the ways my own ignorance operated even as a survivor of multiple sexual assaults.’

Brittany Perrineau then responded to Dunham saying, ‘You hurt us. What you said was hurtful, denying survivors like you, me, Aurora and millions of others.’

She then added that both she and Aurora felt Dunham’s ‘love and receive your heartfelt apology’, before turning to the audience and thanking ‘everybody that stood up for our child’.

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