UPDATE (11/9/17, 9:30 a.m. ET): A second woman has come forward to accuse Ed Westwick of sexual assault. Former actress Aurélie Wynn said the Gossip Girl star raped her at his Los Angeles rental in 2014.
"I believe you Kristina Cohen and thank you for speaking up so eloquently and really encompassing what young female actresses have to go through at the hands of men like Ed Westwick," Wynn wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday (November 8). "Without you I would not have had the strength to speak up publicly about my ordeal."
On Thursday (November 9), Westwick took to social media to dispute the allegations against him.
Ed Westwick is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department following actress Kristina Cohen's claim that she was raped by the former Gossip Girl star in his Hollywood Hills home three years ago. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cohen filed the police report on Tuesday (November 7) after she posted a harrowing account of her sexual assault on her public Facebook page.
Westwick denied the allegations against him on Instagram, posting, "I do not know this woman. I have never forced myself in any manner, on any woman. I certainly have never committed rape."
The incident allegedly took place in Westwick's guest bedroom, where Cohen claimed the actor forcibly assaulted her while she was napping. "I was woken up abruptly by Ed on top of me, his fingers entering my body," she wrote. "I told him to stop, but he was strong. I fought him off as hard as I could but he grabbed my face in his hands, shaking me, telling me he wanted to fuck me. I was paralyzed, terrified. I couldn’t speak, I could no longer move. He held me down and raped me."
Cohen is the latest Hollywood actor to come forward with allegations of sexual assault in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal that has rattled the industry. In early October, The New York Times exposed decades of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against the industry titan. As of press time, 57 women — including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lupita Nyong'o, and Cara Delevingne — have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
But in the weeks that have followed since the scandal broke, it's become increasingly apparent that Weinstein was hardly the only sexual predator in Hollywood who had been grossly abusing his power.
Last month, Roy Price, head of Amazon Studios, resigned over allegations of sexual harassment. And more than 300 women have accused director James Toback of sexual harassment since a Los Angeles Times exposé reported that Toback had been harassing women for decades. Producer and director Brett Ratner has filed a defamation lawsuit against a woman who alleged he raped her. Her accusation was part of a larger story in which six women, including X-Men star Olivia Munn, accused him of sexual harassment or assault.
It's not just big-name producers and industry executives, either. Actors Jeremy Piven, Andy Dick, Dustin Hoffman, and Kevin Spacey have all since been accused of sexual misconduct in recent weeks. Most recently, Spacey was fired from his Emmy-winning Netflix series House of Cards after Buzzfeed News detailed the actor's decades-long history of making sexual advances toward underage men. The Oscar winner has also been accused of sexual harassment and assault by members of the House of Cards crew, including a former production assistant who described Spacey's on-set behavior as "predatory."
And this is only the beginning. On Tuesday, The New Yorker published a terrifying account of Weinstein's attempt to collect private information about the women who accused him of sexual misconduct and reporters who were investigating it. This only further proves that Hollywood's deep-seated pattern of sexual harassment can no longer be an "open secret." More importantly: Women in Hollywood, like Cohen, can no longer be silenced into submission.
Cohen made her painful assault public because of the many women and men who came before her in these unsettling past few weeks — and as a result, she said she hopes her story inspires others to do the same.
"I hope that my stories and the stories of others help to reset and realign the toxic environments and power imbalances that have created these monsters."
It's also important to note that this isn't just a Hollywood problem. In every industry there are men with power who routinely abuse it simply because they can. But, like Cohen said, the more we talk about this imbalance and address the systemic issues that create it — like the glaring lack of female leadership in general — the closer we come to eradicating this kind of boys-club behavior.