Comedian Louis CK accused of sexual misconduct by 5 women

In response to the allegations, published by The New York Times, Louis C.K. said, "These stories are true."
9:03 | 11/11/17

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Transcript for Comedian Louis CK accused of sexual misconduct by 5 women
Reporter: These stories are true. Four words that have confirmed the explosive allegations of sexual misconduct against one of the biggest names in comedy. There's no greater threat to women than men. We're the number one threat to women. Reporter: Louis ck. Just hours ago acknowledging that the accusations that he masturbated in front of three women and behaved inappropriately with two others are true. Louis ck was revered in comedy. He was considered by many people a feminist and a person who empowered women. So to have these allegations come out was really a shock to fans. Reporter: A team of "New York Times" reporters, including CARA Buckley and melana risk, broke the bombshell story. There had been rumors for years and years. Reporter: Emboldened by the seismic shift of people speaking out after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, two female comedians telling these reporters what happened with Louis ck all those years ago. They had this big break in 2002, got to perform at the U.S. Comedy arts festival in aspen, which is a high bar for comedy. After their show Louis ck invited them back to his hotel to hang out. They thought, cool, he's a comedian we admire. And they're together. They're together. They didn't think his intentions were anything but collegial. Before they sat down, before they had a chance to take off their coats and hats, he said, can I take out my penis? They laughed it off. Then he proceeded to live totally naked and began masturbating. They laughed because they thought it was a joke? They thought it was a joke. Did they consent to doing this? They said they did not consent. They couldn't believe it was happening and then when it was over, they fled the room and they were in a state of shock. Reporter: The comedy duo says they initially didn't report what happened to authorities. Why did they feel they couldn't go to police? They weren't sure whether it was illegal, or whether their story would get the right attention from the police. Everything that happened to them was, they felt, very surreal and they didn't know what to do. Reporter: They say they realized something needed to be done. They tried to shame ck by telling their story within the comedy world. They began to tell everyone that they could. And they said people began sort of to back away as if the information they were saying was dangerous. Their takeaway was, we're being warned, we shouldn't talk about this. Best-selling author, comedian, and virgin until I was 27 -- Reporter: Heather McDonald, actress and comedienne based in Los Angeles. She knows the dark side of the entertainment world too well. The minute you talk about somebody that's powerful, they can ruin you. They can blackball you, they can keep projects from happening. And so when people do say, let me tell you this story, oftentimes someone will say, I'd keep that to yourself. Reporter: The comedy duo told the "Times" reporters it was ck's manager, Dave Becky in particular, who intimidated them. Mr. Becky has denied that he threatened any of these women. What do the women you've talked to say? They say Becky is an incredible powerful kingmaker in the comedy world. Especially if you're new to the field and you're just making your way in it. You wouldn't want to anger that person, you wouldn't want to start off on the wrong foot with that person. Reporter: Among other accusers, Rebecca Corey who was working on a television pilot produced by courteney cox and David Arquette when she says she was approached by ck. 2005, she was a producer and actor on a show "Midnightly news." Louis ck was a guest. He pulled her aside and said, can I masturbate in front of you? She said no, horrified. Word reached courteney cox and David Arquette. They talked about whether to shut down production. Rebecca decided against it. But she was absolutely appalled. Reporter: The "Times" reports Arquette and cox confirm the incident. Cox writing in an e-mail that what happened to Rebecca was awful. McDonald says even though the comedy world is raunchy at times -- I'm married so I can pay people to touch me. Reporter: It's not a justification for harassment. People were saying this about the comics that spoke up, the female comics, that they had an edgy, dirty act. And that is no excuse. A female comic does not mean that she cannot be sexually harassed, that she cannot be sexually offended. Reporter: Louis ck part of an exclusive group of Hollywood heavyweights now joining another club. Men all accused of varying degrees of sexual misconduct. We're there to do standup, we don't want to see your penis in the green room. Reporter: Louis ck rose to fame poking fun at his appearance. I'm the guy women see and they go, huh? I'm like, I know, but let me talk to you for a minute. Reporter: And his sexual hang-ups and peccadillos as in this HBO special. These days my problem is simple, trying to find a place in my house where I can masturbate without somebody bothering me. Reporter: He turned what seemed like raw self-awareness into mega stardom. LI tours. Comedy specials. ??? and a hit TV show that he wrote, directed, and edited. But his material, which never shied away from talking about his sexual impulses, often turned dark. Women try to compete. I'm a pervert, you don't know. I have really sick sexual thoughts. No, you have no idea. You have no idea. Reporter: Comedy that so many may have chuckled at but psychologist and sex therapist Chris Donahue says this is 92 no laughing matter. Louis ck has a history of frequently making jokes about masturbation and sexual assault, normalizing sexually assaulting women, and has a history of that. So that is a red flag and that is a huge concern. What? No, no, no -- Reporter: In an episode of "Louis" from 2014, his character tries to drag his long-time crush into the bedroom against her wishes. It drew ire at the time and it's now taking on new meaning. You want to do something, you want to try something but you don't -- you can't, for some reason you can't. So I'm going to take control. And I'm going to make something happen. Reporter: At the time ck responded to the criticism saying, I don't think you can call it rape, it was a kiss on the mouth. Rape is a real serious and bad thing. In 2014, he spoke to ABC news about his willingness to push boundaries in his comedy. I think sex is a fascinating subject and it's a hilarious subject because it's awkward, and it's high-stakes, and it makes you feel great or makes you feel terrible. It's a huge array of experience. Reporter: And it's the real darkness behind the comedy that may lead to his downfall. In his lengthy statement, Louis ck says that he is remorseful. The power I had over these women is that they admired me and I wielded that power irresponsibly which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried. He adds, there is nothing about this that I forgive myself for, saying, I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want, I will now step back and take a long time to listen. But Netflix has already canceled his standup special. While HBO's removing his projects from their on demand services. They also announced he will no longer be participating in an upcoming comedy benefit. And just this evening, FX announced they were cutting ties with the comedian. China is a minor -- Minor what? His latest "I love you daddy" scheduled to be released next week has been shelved. Some of its scenes had already garnered criticism. He really likes to fly close to the sun without getting burned. There's a scene of a character aggressively mimicking masturbation. So it really is the million-dollar question. Life imitating art? Art imitating life? Reporter: "Times" reporter CARA Buckley says she is confronted him after the screening. And I said, it seems very audacious for you to put an extended scene of someone masturbating considering the rumors. And he said, I never thought of that. And I just thought -- huh. Okay. Reporter: While the current accusations do not involve physical contact, Donahue says this kind of harassment must still be taken seriously. People often believe and Louis ck actually talked about this in his statement, that if I'm not physically touching someone, that I'm not necessarily assaulting them or harming them. But it does. It can create an emotional psychological trauma. Reporter: Donahue hopes that ck's response today will be a wakeup call to other men. What we're doing in the media and in culture is talking about how many women have been sexually assaulted or raped this year. That's not how we should look at it. The question should be, how many men have raped or section Wahl assaulted this year? Talk about it in an active way, hold men accountable, center them around the dialogue. Reporter: For "Nightline" I'm juju Chang in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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