In a statement issued to the Seattle Times, writer Sherman Alexie addressed the growing number of sexual harassment allegations made against him over the past few days. Alexie apologized to “those I have hurt,” while rejecting what he characterized as “outright falsehoods,” led by fellow writer Litsa Dremousis.
“Over the years, I have done things that have harmed other people, including those I most deeply love. To those I have hurt, I genuinely apologize. I am sorry,” Alexie began his statement. He cryptically acknowledged that “there are women telling the truth about my behavior,” but did not elaborate other than to say that he has “no recollection” of “physically or verbally threatening anyone or their careers.”
Much of the statement was dedicated to his relationship with Dremousis who, in late February, began a Twitter thread alleging that she had been contacted by “dozens” of women who had been sexually harassed or threatened by Alexie. Dremousis described herself as a former “friend” of Alexie, noting that she learned in October that Alexie had sexually harassed eight women in Seattle, his hometown.
In her long Twitter thread, Dremousis said that she had stayed silent out of ethical concerns until anonymous commenters on a January School Library Journal post circulated stories of abuse, allowing her to “ethically say what I know.” (That same School Library Journal thread also resulted in Jay Asher’s expulsion from the Society of Children’s Book Writers after allegations of harassment surfaced.) On Twitter, Dremousis has served as a sort of clearinghouse for allegations of sexual harassment against Alexie, noting numbers and encouraging women to contact reporters.
Alexie’s statement takes issue with Dremousis’s self-portrayal as “simply” a friend. In his statement, Alexie claims that he and Dremousis “had previously been consenting sexual partners.” Alexie also said that, in 2017, two years after their relationship ended, Dremousis emailed his wife, as well as “posted something on my wife’s Facebook page that frightened my wife.” He called the “insinuations” made by Dremousis “outright falsehood.”
In a Facebook post, Dremousis responded to Alexie’s statement, writing “part of his statement about me 100% false.” She added that she knew that Alexie would use the “affair” to “discredit me.” She continued:
I’ve been contacted by 43 media outlets. I put a huge chunk of my private life out there of my own volition b/c I wanted him to stop harming women.
I knew he’d use a consensual affair which ended w/ us staying good friends as a way to discredit dozens of women *who consented to nothing*.
Each media outlet thanked me for being so candid.
When I confronted him four months ago, he didn’t reply. Instead, he immediately took down contact information for all of his agents and his assistant from his web site. Shortly thereafter, he took down his Facebook fan page.
Four days after I confronted him, he canceled his upcoming season w/ Seattle Arts and Lectures.
Nine days after I confronted him, he resigned from IAIA.
A man I confronted four months ago about his sexual harassment of women finally issued a statement wherein he doesn’t deny it.
That’s all I’ll say I’ll for now.
Since Dremousis shared the allegations against Alexie, observers have expected a story from a major news organization (on Twitter, Dremousis encouraged those who had been harassed Alexie to contact two reporters on NPR). Given the ebb and flow of statements and apologies in the #MeToo era, it seems likely that a detailed one is on the way.