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Russell Brand makes first public comments since sexual assault allegations

By Sophie Tanno, CNN

(CNN) — Russell Brand has made his first public comments since being accused of rape and sexual assault, thanking followers for “questioning the information they have been presented with” while not addressing the claims.

In a YouTube video published by the British comedian on Friday night, Brand – who denies the allegations – spoke of an “extraordinary and distressing week,” accusing the UK government of trying to censor him.

Last Saturday, British outlets The Sunday Times, The Times and Channel 4’s “Dispatches” published a joint investigation in which four women alleged Brand sexually assaulted them in separate instances between 2006 and 2013. One of the women said she was 16 and Brand was 31 at the time of the alleged assault in London.

The women chose not to be identified by name in the report, according to the The Times. CNN has not been able to independently verify their claims.

At least two of the alleged assaults took place in Los Angeles. One woman was treated at a rape treatment center the same day as the alleged assault, according to the report. Police were contacted by the center, the story stated, but the woman chose not to file a report because she “didn’t think my words would mean anything up against his,” according to notes from the rape center the woman shared with The Times.

In the clip, Brand, 48, did not directly address the claims made against him but instead spoke of the attempts made to censor him online.

“By now you’re probably aware that the British government have asked big tech platforms to censor our online content and that some online platforms have complied with that request,” he said.

“What you may not know is that this happens in the context of the online safety bill, which is a piece of UK legislation that grants sweeping surveillance and censorship powers, and it’s a law that has already been passed.”

The UK’s online safety bill, which requires social media platforms to take down illegal content and criminalizes some online activity, passed its final Parliamentary debate on Tuesday but is yet to become law.

Brand preemptively denied the allegations in a video posted to his verified Instagram page, which he shared ahead of the documentary’s airing.

He became famous as a comedian and actor, but in recent years he has built a YouTube channel which has been accused of promoting conspiracy theories including Covid denialism.

Since the allegations broke YouTube has demonetized Brand’s channel, while his live tour has been postponed.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Lauren Kent and Dan Heching contributed reporting.

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