Due Process

Sexual Assault Allegation Against George Takei Collapses Under Scrutiny

Star Trek actor is a victim of #MeToo overreach.


Rishi Deka/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Scott Brunton, the man who accused George Takei of drugging and sexually assaulting him in 1981, almost certainly wasn't drugged, changed key details of his story, and told at least one outright lie to The Hollywood Reporter, where Brunton's allegations first appeared last November.

That's according to an exhaustively researched Observer piece by the author Shane Snow. Snow writes that "this story needs to be recast significantly," in light of the information he learned from Brunton during hours of conversation. It seems fairly clear that Takei's name should appear on the small but not-to-be-overlooked list of men who have come under false suspicion during the #MeToo era.

Brunton had claimed he met Takei at a gay bar in 1981. Takei consoled Brunton, who was 24 at the time, after the latter had broken up with his boyfriend. Brunton accompanied the veteran Star Trek actor back to his home one night after a dinner where he drank wine. Brunton consumed two drinks at Takei's home and then felt "disoriented and dizzy," he told THR. He passed out in a bean bag chair. When he came to, Takei had pulled down his pants and was groping his crotch. Brunton rebuffed him and drove home.

Brunton also told THR that he sought Takei out during the actor's book tour a decade later, intending to confront him about what had happened. The pair got together for coffee, but Brunton couldn't bring himself to mention the incident.

On Twitter, the now 80-year-old Takei wrote that he was "shocked and bewildered" by the accusation, and did not remember Brunton at all.

That seems infinitely more plausible, now that we know the coffee meeting didn't actually take place:

In one of our interviews, Brunton admitted that the coffee meeting never occurred. He said he actually just called Takei's room through the hotel switchboard, and the actor had told him they could chat at a signing event for his autobiography, To the Stars.

When Brunton got to the front of the line of fans, though, he "chickened out" and did not confront him about their encounter.

After Brunton told his story to THR, some people on Twitter suggested that perhaps he had been drugged by Takei. This quickly became part of Brunton's tale. Shortly after the THR piece, Brunton told The Oregonian, "I know unequivocally he spiked my drink."

But that seems highly doubtful:

"The most likely cause is not drug-related," said Lewis Nelson, the director of medical toxicology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. "It sounds like postural hypotension, exacerbated by alcohol." Postural hypotension is a sudden decrease in blood pressure that can occur when a person stands up quickly—and can make one dizzy enough to pass out even without alcohol. Brunton had made it clear to me, twice, that dizziness hit him only when he stood up.

The kind of date-rape drugs that would have been available in 1981 should have completely incapacitated Brunton for hours, according to Snow. He wouldn't have been able to drive home shortly thereafter.

Takei still could have assaulted Brunton, even if he hadn't drugged him. But despite initially claiming that Takei groped his crotch, Brunton didn't mention any inappropriate touching when he was interviewed by CNN. He told Snow that did not remember being actually groped by Takei. And whatever was happening—what Takei wanted to happen—came to an abrupt halt as soon as Brunton said no.

Snow is extremely careful and measured in his analysis of the story. But it certainly looks like the evidence of predatory behavior on Takei's part just doesn't exist, and Brunton's embellishments cast doubt on whether his memory his reliable.

Reacting to Snow's story, Takei tweeted that he was grateful "this nightmare is finally drawing to a close." He noted that he bears Brunton no ill will, and understands "this was part of a very important national conversation that we as a society must have, painful as it might be."

That national conversation is important, and it's thanks to the brave men and women of the #MeToo movement that abusive creeps like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby are finally being held accountable for their actions. But those men were brought down by painstakingly well-reported journalism, and will face justice (or in the case of Cosby, already has faced justice) after being afforded due process under the law. The Takei incident is a reminder that not all victims tell the truth, and it's important to carefully vet the facts before ultimate judgment is rendered.