Lena Dunham: Believe rape victims, except the one who accused my friend (Update: Dunham regrets her statement)

Lena Dunham has issued a statement in support of a former writer on her show “Girls” who was accused of rape Friday by a young actress named Aurora Perrineau. Perrineau claims she met producer and writer Murray Miller in 2012 when she was just 17-years-old. Friday, the Wrap reported that Perrineau had reported her allegation to police in Los Angeles:

The actress was with two friends, she said, and Miller asked one of them for a ride home “because he was drunk,” and the group agreed. Miller was 35 at the time.

She said everyone got out of the car at Miller’s home, and she did not want to, but “felt like I had to go along with everyone else.

“At some point, I woke up in Murray’s bed naked. He was on top of me having sexual intercourse with me. At no time did I consent to any sexual contact with Murray,” she said in the statement.

Miller’s attorneys, Matthew Walerstein, denies the charges and claims an attorney representing Perrineau contacted Miller a few weeks ago seeking “monetary damages.” “Only after her demands for money were rebuffed did Ms. Perrineau go to the police,” Walerstein said in a statement to the Wrap. Walerstein also claims to have “overwhelming evidence” contradicting the claim.

But Perrineau’s mother denies anyone sought money from Miller and Aurora Perrineau says she passed a polygraph test in September about the alleged incident.

So you have a he-said, she-said in which both the accuser and the accused seem adamant about what happened. Enter progressive voice-of-a-generation, Lena Dunham. Murray Miller was a writer on her show “Girls” so Dunham knows him well and clearly considers him a friend. Late Friday Dunham and show-runner Jenni Konner (pictured with Dunham above) gave a statement to the Hollywood Reporter essentially accusing Perrineau of lying:

During the windfall of deeply necessary accusations over the last few months in Hollywood, we have been thrilled to see so many women’s voices heard and dark experiences in this industry justified. It’s a hugely important time of change and, like every feminist in Hollywood and beyond, we celebrate. But during every time of change there are also incidences of the culture, in its enthusiasm and zeal, taking down the wrong targets. We believe, having worked closely with him for more than half a decade, that this is the case with Murray Miller. While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year. It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we’ll be saying about this issue.

That 3 percent of cases Dunham is referring to are false reports of rape, so Dunham is doing more than just suggesting Miller is a good person, she’s calling his accuser a liar. Perhaps Dunham does have some solid inside information, but there’s no doubt that this is an odd look for someone who has recently and publicly claimed women don’t lie about rape.

That was in August but yesterday, in an apparent reference to the rape allegation, Dunham tweeted:

Meanwhile, not everyone is thrilled with Dunham’s defense of the accused. An author writing for the Independent suggests Dunham is applying a different standard in this case because Perrineau is biracial:

When a figure such as Lena Dunham, seen as a beacon of female empowerment, takes the time to essentially accuse a young woman of colour of lying about her alleged experience with seemingly no evidence other than “insider knowledge” of Murray’s situation, it strikes a painful cord. Dunham has long faced criticisms due to not including women of colour in her TV show, and seeing her going out of her way to discredit Perrineau’s allegations betrays a worrying double standard given her previous assertions that rape isn’t something women lie about. But it seems that doesn’t apply when women of colour accuse white men she’s friends with.

From the Root:

In today’s “some white feminists ain’t shit” news, Lena Dunham has proven once again that she’s a hot flaming garbage barge of trash, after defending a male writer on her defunct HBO series Girls, when it came to accusations that he raped a 17-year-old actress.

Actress Asia Argento, who has accused Harvey Weinstein of rape, was much more blunt:


These are just the highlights, you might say. There are literally hundreds of tweets from conservatives and disappointed progressives taking Dunham to task for her statement.

At a minimum, Dunham is now on record saying not all accusers should be believed. That in itself is a major departure for her. But if she’s wrong about Miller, she’s going to be the next Lisa Bloom, i.e. someone who agreed to defend the wrong person. The accusations against Miller have been turned over to the LAPD and are currently being investigated.

Update: Well, that was quick. Saturday afternoon Dunham and Konner issued a new statement saying they regret Friday’s statement “with every fiber of our being.”

Notice this is all pretty general. Every accuser deserves to be believed. But Dunham/Konner never quite say they believe Aurora Perrineau’s story. They don’t seem to have changed their mind about her so much as about the wisdom of doubting her publicly.

As I suggested above, I think this is a serious wound for Dunham’s brand. Whether this wound becomes mortal will probably depend on the outcome of the LAPD investigation. If Miller is charged with rape, Dunham’s transformation into Lisa Bloom will be complete.