Women who accused ‘Gossip Girl’ star Ed Westwick of sexual assault speak out; actor denies allegations
For both women, the encounter began the same.
They were each invited to “Gossip Girl” star Ed Westwick’s home by a mutual friend. When their Uber driver dropped them off, they drank and hung out at the house for hours. Eventually, they each went to a spare bedroom to sleep. Then, the women both alleged in separate interviews with The Times, the British actor forced himself on them.
The women said the incidents happened months apart, three years ago. At the time, the women were each dating someone, friends of Westwick.
A third woman, who asked that her name not be published, told The Times that Westwick grabbed and slapped her backside at FYF Fest near downtown Los Angeles that same year.
“You don’t know what you’re missing,” she said he told her, after she declined to buy him a drink.
Another, Rachel Eck, told BuzzFeed News that Westwick groped her that same year at the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood, where she showed up to hang out with her ex-boyfriend.
A publicist for Westwick did not respond to the allegations after multiple emails and phone calls from a reporter. But in two Twitter posts, Westwick adamantly denied the allegations.
“I do not know this woman,” he wrote after the first woman, Kristina Cohen, came forward. “I have never forced myself in any manner, on any woman. I certainly have never committed rape.”
Two days later, he said he’s cooperating with authorities “so that they can clear my name as soon as possible.”
“It is disheartening and sad to me that as a result of two unverified … social media claims, there are some in this environment who could ever conclude I have had anything to do with such vile and horrific conduct,” he wrote. “I have absolutely not.”
In light of the allegations, the BBC announced that it was suspending the debut of “Ordeal by Innocence,” a new television series starring Westwick, “until these matters are resolved.”
Los Angeles police opened an investigation after Cohen filed a report this month at the LAPD’s Hollywood station. The agency’s sex crimes unit of the Robbery-Homicide Division took over the case.
In interviews with The Times, both Cohen and Aurelie Cao, who goes by the stage name Aurelie Wynn, offered detailed accounts of encounters with Westwick in 2014.
For Cohen, the alleged incident happened sometime after Valentine’s Day. She said she went to a house party with Kaine Harling, an Australian producer she was dating, and her best friend, Blaise Godbe Lipman. She and Harling left the party and went back to her place, where they stayed up through the night talking.
Early that morning, Westwick called Harling and invited the producer over to his house, which Cohen said was somewhere in the Hollywood Hills off Mulholland Drive.
Harling called an Uber and the pair went to Westwick’s home. The three of them spent the morning in Westwick’s bedroom, she said, drinking and smoking marijuana, playing dress-up with his hats, speaking in different accents, playing rap music and writing.
Cohen said other people were in the home, including Westwick’s then-roommate. At some point, possibly in the afternoon, the energy in the bedroom changed, she said. Westwick suggested they have a threesome.
Cohen said she told Harling she felt weird and wanted to leave. Harling told her he didn’t want to leave so abruptly or make things awkward, she said.
The three of them moved to the kitchen.
Cohen said she was tired and Westwick suggested she sleep in his guest room. Harling walked her to the spare room, where he told her he was going to “watch the game” for 20 minutes with the boys. Then, she recalled him telling her, they could leave.
Cohen quickly fell asleep.
When she woke up, she said, the sheets were thrown off her and Westwick was sticking his fingers inside of her. She said she tried to fight him off and told him to stop.
She said he grabbed her head and told her he wanted to have sex with her, and asked if she wanted to have sex with him.
“Why would I?” she asked.
“Money,” she said he replied.
Then, she alleged, he coerced her into having sex.
Eventually, she said, Harling came to the room and asked her if she wanted to leave. She remembers feeling paralyzed and terrified.
“I wish I had had enough courage to just run out of the room and make a scene,” Cohen said. “But I didn’t. I said, ‘No.’ ”
Cohen said Westwick walked Harling to the door and said, “She’s gonna be my wife for a little bit.” The actor then shut and locked the door.
Harling could not be reached for comment. In a strange twist, Buzzfeed News reported, Harling is also the ex-boyfriend who called Eck, the woman who said in an interview with the news site that Westwick groped her, to the Sunset Marquis hotel in March 2014.
After Harling left, Cohen said that in a daze, she had dinner with Westwick. She said he served dry steak and soggy onion rings.
“At that point I felt like I’d completely lost my voice,” she said.
They watched the movie “About Time” and had sex. That time, Cohen said, she didn’t fight it. She ended up spending the night.
“I wish I did just run out of the room,” Cohen said. “In the moment I was just scared; I was actually scared that he could’ve killed me.”
When she woke up in the morning, Cohen asked Westwick to call her an Uber and he did. He kissed her goodbye and she left, directing the Uber driver to Godbe Lipman’s home, where her car was parked.
Cohen provided a photograph she took that morning of what she said was Westwick’s bedroom.
Godbe Lipman, 28, said in an interview that Cohen told him the same story that February morning in 2014. Reflecting on it now, Godbe Lipman thinks the whole situation was a setup.
Cao’s story was similar. A friend invited her to a Glendower Avenue mansion she said Westwick was renting in August 2014. By the time she got there, she said, the party was over. She was invited again the next night, when she said Westwick sent an Uber to her Santa Monica home to pick her up.
At the time, Cao, 30, said she was dating Mark Salling, an actor on the television show “Glee” who was caught in 2015 with a trove of child pornography. He agreed last month to plead guilty to possessing child porn.
Cao said she and her friend spent the night drinking and talking with Westwick and his roommate on the patio until the sun started to come up. They decided to grab a few hours’ sleep, she said, before events that day. Westwick guided her to a master bedroom filled with children’s belongings, including a crib and a playpen.
Cao said he sat on the bed and asked her if she wanted to hook up. She said no.
“OK, then,” she recalled him saying. She said he then pushed her facedown onto the bed, snapped off her one-piece bathing suit and penetrated her from behind as she told him to stop.
“I was in shock,” she said. She remembers thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Westwick fell asleep, Cao said, and she tried to snap a photo of him to prove she was there, but the room was too dark. She did film two videos — which she provided to The Times — as she tried to find her way out of the home that morning.
Cao decided to speak out after hearing Cohen’s story and seeing people online trying to discredit her. Cao first described her account in a Facebook post.
“I wouldn’t have done it otherwise,” Cao said. Her friend, Eleni Feleke, confirmed to The Times that Cao told her about the incident in 2014, a week or so after it allegedly happened.
Cao said she considered going to the police at the time, but friends discouraged her, telling her that the experience was common in Hollywood and that people would criticize her and say she was out for fame. The alleged incident, she said, deterred her from pursuing an acting career.
Cohen and Cao met for the first time one recent afternoon at the LAPD’s Hollywood station, where Cao filed a sexual assault report. Cohen said she showed up to provide moral support.
When Cao walked in, the two women embraced.
“Oh my God, I’m like nervous,” Cao told Cohen. “I think it’ll be relieving. I did my part. After that, it’s out of my hands.”
Cohen handed her a fuzzy red blanket she had brought to keep Cao warm for when she spoke to an officer.
“I’m here to hold you,” Cohen said.
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