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Another popular television creator was accused of sexual harassment last week, but this time the story has a slightly different ending: a “masterclass in How to Apologize.”
After being taken to task on Twitter, “Community” creator Dan Harmon made a detailed and lengthy apology to “Community” writer Megan Ganz for his inappropriate behavior during her time on the NBC series.
On the most recent episode of his podcast “Harmontown,” Harmon spoke for seven minutes about his treatment of Ganz.
“The most clinical way I can put it in fessing up to my crimes is that I was attracted to a writer I had power over because I was a showrunner, and I knew enough to know that these feelings were bad news,” he said.
The admission comes a little more than a week after Ganz confronted Harmon on social media about his past conduct.
“It took me years to believe in my talents again, to trust a boss when he complimented me and not cringe when he asked for my number,” Ganz said in a tweet to Harmon. “I was afraid to be enthusiastic, knowing it might be turned against me later.”
In his apology, Harmon detailed his flirty, creepy behavior toward Ganz, his employee, and how he hid his behavior by telling himself he was a mentor and a feminist. After two years of targeting Ganz, he admitted, he proclaimed his love for her, a feeling she did not reciprocate.
“Now I wanted to teach her a lesson. I wanted to show her that if she didn’t like being liked in that way, then, oh, boy, she should get over herself. After all, if you’re just going to be a writer then this is how ‘just writers’ get treated,” he said.
The cost for Harmon’s behavior was high for all involved. He was fired from “Community” after Season 3 — though he returned for the last two seasons of the show’s six-season run. Ganz left the show after Season 4, moving on to a job on “Modern Family.”
After plainly describing his inappropriate conduct and sincerely apologizing, Harmon concluded his podcast monologue by warning listeners that he got to this place by not thinking.
“I want to say I did it by not thinking about it and I got away with it by not thinking about it. And if she hadn’t mentioned something on Twitter, I would have continued to not have to not think about it, although I did walk around with my stomach in knots about it, but I wouldn’t have had to talk about it,” he said.
On Thursday, Ganz asked her Twitter followers to listen to Harmon’s apology. That message has been been retweeted more than 5,000 times.
“What I didn't expect was the relief I’d feel just hearing him say these things actually happened,” Ganz tweeted. “I didn’t dream it. I’m not crazy. Ironic that the only person who could give me that comfort is the one person I’d never ask.”
She then publicly accepted Harmon’s expression of remorse.
When asked why she thinks Harmon’s apology has resonated the way it has, Ganz told The Times that it’s about taking responsibility.
“So often, the apology is lacking that one crucial element: ‘I knew she didn't want it and I did it anyway,’” Ganz wrote in an email. “Don't say you didn't know, or you learned later, or you're sorry if she misinterpreted. Don't share your blame with your victim. Take responsibility.”
“I know many women have been treated worse than me and deserve better,” Ganz continued. “But that healing can only begin when our abusers stop protecting themselves and start apologizing properly, openly, and completely.”
Harmon did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment Friday.