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Kenneth Lonergan Defends Casey Affleck in Response to College Essay

Variety logo Variety 3/7/2017 Variety Staff
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Kenneth Lonergan has once again come to the defense of his “Manchester by the Sea” star Casey Affleck, who was accused of sexual harassment by two former employees in 2010.

The defense came in the form a response to an opinion piece published in the newspaper of Lonergan’s alma mater, Wesleyan University, by student Connor Aberle.

Aberle’s piece, titled “How Wesleyan is Complicit in Affleck’s Sexual Misconduct by Endorsing Lonergan ’84,” critiques both Lonergan for defending Affleck during awards season and the school for continuing to promote Lonergan’s connection with Wesleyan. Affleck won this year’s best actor Oscar while Lonergan’s work on “Manchester” earned him the best screenwriting prize.

Lonergan writes in his piece “How Connor Aberle and The Argus are Complicit in Slandering Casey Affleck” that Aberle’s article “is 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-fueled sense of indignation.”

He goes on to condemn the student for using terms like “sexual violence,” “sexual harassment,” “sexual abuse,” and “sexual misconduct” interchangeably and for “slandering” Affleck when the allegations were never proven.

“How does Mr Aberle dare to write as if he knows who was telling the truth and who was not?” Lonergan goes on to say. “Anyone can sue anyone for anything in this country; the unsubstantiated details go in the public record and stay there.”

Affleck was sued under a breach of contract violation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other complaints, by two women who were working on his unsuccessful mockumentary “I’m Still Here.” The allegations include lewd text messages after one of the women refused to sleep with Affleck, Affleck climbing into bed with one of the women while she was sleeping, and creating a hostile work environment by bringing up sex (specifically sex with the women) oftentimes on set.

The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. “In other words,” Lonergan writes, “nothing was proved or disproved.”

The court filings can be found here.

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