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Rose McGowan Accuses Director Alexander Payne of Sexual Assault [Updated]

The actress and activist said the incident took place when she was only 15 years old

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Rose McGowan, photo via Pink News
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Content note: this story contains discussions of underage sexual misconduct.

Actor, musician, and sexual assault activist Rose McGowan has accused film director Alexander Payne (Sideways, Downsizing) of sexual misconduct. She said she was subjected to his inappropriate behavior when she was only a teenager.

“Alexander Payne,” McGowan addressed a tweet posted early Monday. “You sat me down & played a soft-core porn movie you directed for Showtime under a different name. I still remember your apartment in Silverlake [sic]. You are very well-endowed. You left me on a street corner afterwards. I was 15.”

Payne would have been 28 at the time of the alleged incident.

In a follow-up tweet, McGowan explained that she doesn’t “wish to destroy” the Election and The Descendents director, but is seeking an “apology and acknowledgement.” The tweet included a photo of McGowan at the age of 15.

In a 2018 interview with Ronan Farrow, McGowan claimed that a “very famous” Hollywood man had raped her when she was underage. “He took me home, after he met me, and showed me a soft-porn movie he’d made for Showtime, under a different name, of course… And then he had sex with me. And then he left me next to Tropical in Silver Lake, standing on a street corner,” said McGowan.

The actress said that she had only recently realized that the incident was statutory rape, and that she would reveal his name publicly in due time.

McGowan was one of the dozens of women who spoke out against Harvey Weinstein and helped to bring down the disgraced film producer and convicted rapist. The self-described “feminist whistleblowing badass” recently appeared on This Must Be the Gig to talk about her activism and you can revisit that interview below.

Update: McGowan has posted a longer statement to Instagram. In it, she further emphasizes her accusations against Payne and details the deep psychological toll his alleged misconduct has had on her.

“I feel badly about throwing a bomb into someone’s life and career, but I guess that’s social conditioning. I’m more sad than angry,” wrote McGowan. “Sad for 15 year-old me. Sad for the adult me that still thought it was a choice I made. Grooming is real. I want you all to know that it’s not your fault if you were mentally massaged into thinking it’s okay. It is not. I know this now.” Read it in full below.

“Last night I dropped a bomb of truth. For years I had thought a man I had sexual relations with was a sexual experience I had. I now know I was groomed. I auditioned for him at 15. After my experience with him, I quit acting entirely until I was ‘discovered’ at 21. When that happened, I was like, fuck it, let’s do this. I even tweeted a congratulations on his Oscar win in 2012, that’s how deep in the Cult of Hollywood I was. It wasn’t until three weeks after the Weinstein story broke that I re-evaluated the situation. I feel badly about throwing a bomb into someone’s life and career, but I guess that’s social conditioning. I’m more sad than angry. Sad for 15 year-old me. Sad for the adult me that still thought it was a choice I made. Grooming is real. I want you all to know that it’s not your fault if you were mentally massaged into thinking it’s okay. It is not. I know this now. I would even go up to this director at events and ask him, with a smile, ‘remember when you had sex with me at 15?’ And I would laugh it off. That is deep societal programming. If you are out there trying to have sex with an underage minor, you are committing a crime, even if the minor doesn’t know it. I was attracted to him, so I thought it was on me, but that’s not correct. I was not an adult. When it happened, I’d recently been left behind in Hollywood by a family member to fend for myself. The wolves preyed. Please recognize that if this has happened to you, the shame is not yours, it’s theirs. Give it back. Groomers are skilled operators and at 15, I was not aware of the warning signs. I named him on Twitter, but since Instagram is my softer side, I just don’t want his name here. Goddess bless us all, except for those that abuse their power. Here’s to freedom, yours and mine.

Consequence of Sound has reached out to both McGowan and Payne for additional comment.

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse, contact the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

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