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What to Know About the Sexual-Assault Allegations Against Anthony Anderson

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Anthony Anderson’s turn hosting the Emmy Awards on Monday was largely well received, as the actor leaned into the nostalgia of the show’s 75th anniversary and recruited his mother, Doris Bowman, for a recurring bit in which she cut off winners’ acceptance speeches. But prior to the event, the announcement that the Black-ish star would emcee television’s biggest night raised some eyebrows when years-old sexual-assault allegations against Anderson resurfaced. Since 2004, the comedian has been accused of sexual assault by three women, two of whom reported Anderson to the police and later had their cases closed or dismissed.

Anderson has steadily worked in film and TV since, including on the award-winning Black-ish, as a host of the NAACP Image Awards for nine consecutive years, and on the new Fox game show We Are Family. Ahead of the Emmys, however, organizations such as the Sexual Violence Prevention Association asked the Television Academy and Fox, which aired the awards ceremony, to remove Anderson as host. “The entertainment industry has the power and responsibility to protect individuals from sexual violence,” the group said on Instagram. A spokesperson for Anderson declined to comment on the record, and the Emmys did not immediately respond to the Cut’s requests for comment. The comedian has previously denied all the allegations. Here’s everything you need to know.

Twenty years ago, a film extra alleged Anderson had sexually assaulted her on set.

In July 2004, a 25-year-old woman reported to police in Memphis, Tennessee, that Anderson and assistant director Wayne Witherspoon had sexually assaulted her on the set of Hustle & Flow.

The woman alleged to authorities that she had been “lured” to a trailer, where she claimed Anderson and Witherspoon “began removing her clothing and began sexually assaulting her,” according to a criminal complaint published by The Smoking Gun at the time. The woman alleged the two men had restrained her during the assault and took photos of her genitals against her will. According to the complaint, she told police she was kicking and screaming as she tried to get away, and a witness said they came to unlock the door after hearing screams. The woman fled the trailer naked before being transported to a local hospital, police said.

Anderson was charged with aggravated rape and released after posting $20,000 in bail. A spokesperson said at the time that the comedian “absolutely denies the heinous charges that have been made against him.” During a preliminary court hearing, the woman testified that Anderson had nonconsensual sex with her two times the day before the incident she reported to the authorities, according to E! News. She also stated that she had feared for her life during the alleged assault. A judge dismissed the rape charges against Anderson and Witherspoon in October 2004, ruling that there was no probable cause.

A second accuser came forward the same year and sued Anderson.

A woman identified in court documents as Jane Doe filed a sexual-assault lawsuit against Anderson in Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2004, seeking $900,000 in damages, according to UPI. Doe claimed Anderson had invited her to his dressing room after a taping of his short-lived show All About the Andersons in 2003. There, Doe alleged in the lawsuit, he made sexually suggestive remarks before grabbing her genitals and sexually assaulting her. A spokesperson for Anderson denied the allegations at the time, telling E! News that the “ridiculous rape charges pending against him in Memphis” had made him a target for bogus claims. No public information is available about the outcome of this lawsuit.

A third woman reported Anderson to the police in 2018 for an alleged sexual assault.

The Los Angeles Police Department opened a criminal investigation against Anderson after a woman who catered one of his events reported him for allegedly sexually assaulting her, The Blast recounted in July 2018. The woman claimed she had met with Anderson after the event to discuss future business opportunities, at which point, she alleged, he assaulted her, according to the outlet. Sources told The Blast the woman decided to go to the police months after the incident purportedly occurred, in part because of the Me Too movement.

Anderson denied the allegations at the time. “It’s unfortunate that anyone can file a police report, whether it is true or false,” a spokesperson told Variety. “The authorities have not contacted Anthony or any of his representatives about this matter. Anthony unequivocally disputes the claim.” In September 2018, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced it would not prosecute the case because the woman refused to be interviewed by authorities.

All the Allegations Against Emmys Host Anthony Anderson