An Asian Australian standup comic has accused ABC host Tom Ballard of sexually assaulting him four years ago.
According to Adelaide-based comedian JooYung Roberts, Ballard reportedly kissed him and sexually assaulted him in a hotel room in Adelaide after a comedy gig.
Roberts told the ABC that the global #MeToo movement inspired him to speak against the Australian TV presenter.
In response to the accusation, Ballard has released a statement denying the allegations “in the strongest terms possible.” The 28-year-old host of comedy program “Tonightly with Tom Ballard” said he had “absolutely no idea (Roberts) believed it wasn’t consensual until six months ago.”
Roberts told The Advertiser in a separate interview that the incident left him traumatized. “It was a traumatizing experience for many reasons, one of those being I’m a heterosexual,” said Roberts.“It’s a risk speaking out about sexual assault. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done. For the sake of my career, I did not want to speak up about it.”
Roberts further revealed that days after the alleged incident, he went to the police to file a report but was snubbed as he “hadn’t said no.”
In an earlier statement posted on his Facebook page, Roberts wrote that “There wasn’t really anything that could be done so I left the station safe in that knowledge. I decided to live my life.”
He noted that while he returned to the police in December to try filing another report, the police simply advised him that there would be no investigation since a prosecution would be unlikely. South Australia Police confirmed that they received a report in December about offenses alleged to have occurred in June 2014. “Investigation into the report is complete and the matter finalized,” a representative of the police force was quoted as saying. “There will be no further action or comment by police.”
According to Roberts, he used his post to provide advice to survivors to seek professional help for trauma and expose the challenges sexual assault victims face when trying to come forward or report the crimes.
“I didn’t seek therapy. I didn’t let people in the Australian comedy community know about what had happened,” Roberts said. “It was a secret that had to be kept, desperately, for the sake of my career.” He pointed out that Australia’s defamation laws as the reason for the few allegations in the country.
“We need to change not just the way we view consent but also the way we silence victims,” Roberts said. “Our defamation laws are stopping countless Australians from seeking the justice they deserve.”
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