Tags: dunham | memoir | barry | rape

WaPo: Dunham, Random House in 'Appalling' Reversal on Rape Claim

Image: WaPo: Dunham, Random House in 'Appalling' Reversal on Rape Claim
Actress, author, screenwriter, producer, and director Lena Dunham. (Matt Crossick/PA-Photos/Landov)

By    |   Tuesday, 09 Dec 2014 10:53 AM

The Washington Post has called "appalling" the statement made by the book publisher of actress Lena Dunham's memoir, "Not That Kind of Girl," that the name given to her one-time alleged rapist, described as a conservative named Barry in the book, is simply a pseudonym.

"Appalling. The book wasn’t a novel; it was a memoir, offered to readers as such. The copyright page, which I suspect few people read, does say that 'Some names and identifying details have been changed,' but it certainly doesn’t tell people which ones," wrote legal expert Eugene Volokh in a column published Monday evening, according to breitbart.com.

Meanwhile, Random House has said it will tweak passages in the book that describe a college sexual assault, under threat of a possible lawsuit, The Hollywood Reporter noted.

In the book, noted the Reporter, a man named Barry is described in sharp detail as the "campus's resident conservative." So specific was the passage that it included tidbits like he wore cowboy boots, had a mustache, worked as the host of a campus radio and was a December 2005 graduate of Oberlin, the Reporter said.

"The description was detailed enough to cast a pall over a former student who has had to defend himself against Dunham's accusation that he raped her," according to attorney, Aaron Minc, who said "his client not only fits Dunham's description, but his first name is also Barry," the Hollywood Reporter noted.

"It took the threat of litigation to make them take action," Minc told the Reporter.

The move to amend passages in the memoir came after the man, who says he is identifiable from Dunham's time at Oberlin College, where the alleged assault was purported to have occurred, created an online fundraising page to pay his legal fees, and has raised more than $24,000 via GoFundMe.com.

The publisher also offered to pay the man's legal costs thus far, the Post said, citing a report in TheWrap.com, which included a statement from Random House.

"The name ‘Barry’ referenced in the book is a pseudonym. Random House, on our own behalf and on behalf of our author, regrets the confusion that has led attorney Aaron Minc to post on GoFundMe on behalf of his client, whose first name is Barry," the statement said.

"We are offering to pay the fees Mr. Minc has billed his client to date. Our offer will allow Mr. Minc and his client to donate all of the crowd-funding raised to not-for-profit organizations assisting survivors of rape and sexual assault."

The Post's Volokh, who teaches free speech law at UCLA, noted that while Dunham's book offered a footnoted disclaimer about another boyfriend mentioned in her book under the pseudonym "Jonah," there is no such treatment for a man described as a Republican named "Barry One."

"Reasonable readers, it seems to me, reading the rest of the memoir, would assume that 'Barry' — whose name wasn’t accompanied with any such footnote — was actually named Barry. Even if not all readers would so conclude, many would, and quite understandably so," Volokh noted of the double-standard.

He added: "How could Dunham and Random House do this? How could an author and a publisher — again, of a self-described memoir, not a work of fiction — describe a supposed rape by a person, give a (relatively rare) first name and enough identifying details that readers could easily track the person down, and not even mention that 'Barry' wasn’t this person’s real name?"

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The Washington Post has called "appalling" the statement made by the book publisher of actress Lena Dunham's memoir, "Not That Kind of Girl," that the name given to her one-time alleged rapist, described as a conservative named Barry in the book, is simply a pseudonym.
dunham, memoir, barry, rape
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2014-53-09
Tuesday, 09 Dec 2014 10:53 AM
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