Brunton’s story sparked a huge controversy on social media when he first shared his account with The Hollywood Reporter in November.
Takei, a highly-respected actor and LGBT advocate, was suddenly a villain in the court of public opinion. To many, he is now among the many celebrities accused of sexual assault in the growing list of scandals involving Hollywood luminaries.
Brunton recounted the events from 37 years ago, claiming that Takei had invited him to dinner and go to the theater. He said they later went back to Takei’s home where the actor served him two drinks. He reportedly remembered feeling “very disoriented and dizzy, and I thought I was going to pass out.” Brunton then said he sat in a giant yellow beanbag chair where he “leaned my head back and I must have passed out.” “The next thing I remember I was coming to and he had my pants down around my ankles and he was groping my crotch and trying to get my underwear off and feeling me up at the same time, trying to get his hands down my underwear.
“I came to and said, ‘What are you doing?!’ I said, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ He goes, ‘You need to relax. I am just trying to make you comfortable. Get comfortable.’ And I said, ‘No. I don’t want to do this.’ And I pushed him off and he said, ‘OK, fine.’ And I said I am going to go and he said, ‘If you feel you must. You’re in no condition to drive.’ I said, ‘I don’t care I want to go.’
“So I managed to get my pants up and compose myself and I was just shocked. I walked out and went to my car until I felt well enough to drive home, and that was that.”
“I want to assure you all that I am as shocked and bewildered at these claims as you must feel reading them. The events he describes back in the 1980s simply did not occur, and I do not know why he has claimed them now. I have wracked my brain to ask if I remember Mr. Brunton, and I cannot say I do. But I do take these claims very seriously, and I wanted to provide my response thoughtfully and not out of the moment.
“Right now it is a “he said / he said” situation, over alleged events nearly 40 years ago. But 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.” Observer’s Shane Snow, who is about to publish a book which partly discusses Takei’s history of childhood incarceration in WWII internment camps and his “fight against homophobia and Asian American discrimination”, decided to revisit the controversy
“If Takei was indeed a creep, I was inclined to remove him from my book,” Snow wrote. Looking more closely at Brunton’s account of the events, Snow said he noticed “eyebrow-raising conflicting details”, including Brunton not mentioning being drugged “until two days after the THR story,” and “then, in a CNN interview, he confusingly didn’t recount any groping.” He then spent months gathering more information, which involved speaking with Brunton, associates of Takei, toxicologists and legal experts in sex offenses.
Snow, who referred to Brunton as a “sympathetic and well-intentioned man,” would eventually arrive at the conclusion “that this story needs to be recast significantly.” According to Snow, Brunton “would go on to walk back key details and let slip that, in his effort to be listened to, he’d fabricated some things. This and other evidence would indicate a hard-to-swallow conclusion: We — both public and press — got the George Takei assault story wrong.”
Among the details that became apparent after conducting his investigation is that Takei didn’t spike Brunton’s drink nor drug him in any way. Snow also noted that Brunton told him he doesn’t remember Takei touching his genitals and that the meeting for coffee with Takei in 1994 “never happened.” “Whatever really happened between Brunton and Takei all those years ago, the meta-lesson here might just be that while our society has long failed victims of sexual harassment and crimes, correcting these monstrous injustices, while remaining ourselves just, will continue to be difficult,” Snow writes at the end of his article. According to Snow, Brunton said he did not want Takei to be vilified, noting that “he just wanted to spur an old friend, to reach out to say sorry for an unwanted situation.”