The Daily Beast has a story today alleging that actor and comedian T.J. Miller sexually assault a woman during his college years. The accuser is not named but is referred to as “Sarah” in the article. Sarah claims she had a sexual relationship with Miller starting in 2001 but that on two different occasions he became violent.
Months into their relationship, which started in the fall of 2001, Sarah said the first troubling encounter took place. She recalled having “a lot to drink” and admitted that there are “parts of [the incident] I don’t remember.” She stressed that “it is important to me to cop to that… [and] I’m not interested in forcing a pretend memory on anyone… 15 years later, I remain terrified of accusing someone of something they didn’t do, but I have a visual and physical memory of that.”
However, Sarah said she has a distinct memory that as they were “fooling around” at her place, Miller began “shaking me violently” and punched her in the mouth during sex…
Possibly because she’d been drinking heavily, Sarah says she had a hard time making sense of what had happened. She awoke with a chipped tooth and a bloody lip but when she confronted Miller, he claimed she had tripped and fallen while intoxicated. The two continued to be friends and a few days later they met up at a party.
When they arrived back at her home, they began to engage in consensual sex—but then Miller became violent again, Sarah said. She emphasized that she had not had more than two drinks that evening, and that her memory of the following “five-hour” ordeal was and is “crystal-clear.”
“We started to fool around, and very early in that, he put his hands around my throat and closed them, and I couldn’t breathe,” she recalled. “I was genuinely terrified and completely surprised…
Sarah claimed that she was “choking audibly”—to the point that her roommates could hear what was happening and rushed over to knock on her bedroom. Sarah said she then got up and walked to her door in a robe, and one of her roommates asked if everything was OK.
“I don’t know,” she responded, before shutting the door, “I’ll talk to you in the morning.”
After she closed the door, the semi-consensual sex continued until Miller left around 5 am. The next morning one of the roommates recalls seeing bruises on Sarah. The roommates recommended she go to the police or maybe even to the hospital but Sarah declined.
A year later, Sarah decided she wanted to do something about what had happened but the physical evidence was gone. She decided to go to the school and make a complaint. Her roommates testified on her behalf at a student court. Miller allegedly had a lawyer. After a couple of weeks, the case was closed. The Daily Beast reports that Miller may have been “expelled after he graduated.” It’s not clear what that means exactly and the school refused to comment on it citing laws protecting student confidentiality.
Miller and his wife wrote a response denying the allegations and suggesting Sarah’s claims were part of a plan to break up their relationship. From the Hollywood Reporter:
We met this woman over a decade ago while studying together in college, she attempted to break us up back then by plotting for over a year before making contradictory claims and accusations. She attempted to discredit both of our voices and use us against one another by trying to portray Kate to be a continuous abuse victim of T.J. (further efforts to hurt the two of us). She was asked to leave our university comedy group because of worrisome and disturbing behavior, which angered her immensely, she then became fixated on our relationship, and began telling people around campus “I’m going to destroy them” & “I’m going to ruin him.”…
Sadly she is now using the current climate to bandwagon and launch these false accusations again.
Miller’s friends at the time also defend him and some suggested Sarah was making up the story of the assault, though the two people who made this claim offered nothing to back it up.
I’m not sold on Miller’s story about trying to break up another relationship, mostly because Sarah’s friends were eyewitnesses to what sounds like violence. But because alcohol was involved and because the incident was (by her own account) at least partly consensual, it’s difficult to know how to react. Should Miller lose his career? What does justice for this behavior, assuming it’s all true, look like after 16 years? Sarah told the Daily Beast, “I don’t want to mess up his life. But he behaved in a way towards me that I have to live with… [and] I don’t think it’s appropriate that I carry this by myself.”