HLN host Ashleigh Banfield put Aziz Ansari's anonymous sexual assault accuser on blast during her show Crime & Justice on January 15. Banfield read an open letter she wrote to the woman known publicly as "Grace."
"You had a bad date. Your date got overly amorous," Banfield said to the camera. "After protesting his moves, you did not get up and leave right away. You continued to engage in the sexual encounter. By your own clear description, this was not a rape, nor was it a sexual assault. By your description, your sexual encounter was unpleasant."
The journalist asked Grace what exactly her issue with Ansari was. And why felt the need to run to the press, shame him, and potentially end his career. "Is that what victimized you to the point of seeking a public conviction and a career-ending sentence against him? Is that what you truly thought he deserved for your night out?" she asked.
They are the women and men who created a national movement against sexual harassment and assault.
Banfield called Grace's claims "reckless and hollow" and explained how they are a step backwards in the #MeToo movement: "The #MeToo movement has righted a lot of wrongs and it has made your career path much smoother…what a gift. Yet, you looked that gift horse in the mouth and chiseled away at that powerful movement with your public accusation."
"You have chiseled away at a movement that I, along with all of my other sisters in the workplace, have been dreaming of for decades," she continued. "A movement that has finally changed an oversexed professional environment that I too have struggled through at times over the last 30 years in broadcasting… I hope the next time you go on a bad date, you stand up sooner, you smooth out your dress and you bloody well leave. Because the only sentence that a guy like that deserves is a bad case of blue balls, not a Hollywood blackball."
Watch Banfield below:
The Master of None star, who just won a Golden Globe for his work on the series, was accused of sexual misconduct by an anonymous 23-year-old Brooklyn photographer. In an article published on babe.net on January 13, she tells the story of a date with Ansari that left her feeling uncomfortable. According to her account, some of the sexual activity was non-consensual and she left his home crying. "Grace" claims she used non-verbal clues to indicate she didn't want to perform certain acts.
Ansari responded to the allegations in a statement: "In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual. The next day, I got a text from her saying that although 'it may have seemed okay,' upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said."