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Were Accusations Against George Takei Amplified by Russian Bots?

Monday Nov 13, 2017
George Takei
George Takei  (Source:Associated Press)

Did Russians attempt to amplify the George Takei sexual assault claim?

According to the New York Daily News, Takei appeared to think so on Sunday when in a tweet (now deleted) that Russian bots helped spread the story in which Scott Brunton, an ex-model and actor, accused Takei of groping him in his Los Angeles condo in 1981.

"The tweet, credited to SecuringDemocracy.org, showed Russian bot activity over the last 48 hours," the Daily News reports.

"'Takei had increased in popularity almost 20,000% and 'George Takei had jumped by more than 15,000%."

Takei responded: "It's clear they want to cow me into silence, but do not fear, friends. I won't succumb to that...

"By way of background, when I criticized Putin's anti-LGBT policies publicly, Russian bots attacked my FB page relentlessly, and we had to develop special security measures and ban all traffic from within the Russian Federation and the Ukraine. I am accustomed to their practices."

Brunton allegations went public on Friday in the Hollywood Reporter that reports "that Takei took advantage of him when he was most vulnerable."

"'This happened a long time ago, but I have never forgotten it,' Brunton tells The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. 'It is one of those stories you tell with a group of people when people are recounting bizarre instances in their lives, this always comes up. I have been telling it for years, but I am suddenly very nervous telling it.'"

In his account, Brunton told of having a date with Takei in 1981.

He told the Hollywood Reporter that Takei "invited him to dinner and the theater.
'He was very good at consoling me and understanding that I was upset and still in love with my boyfriend,' Brunton says. 'He was a great ear. He was very good about me spilling my heart on my sleeve.'

"The two men went back to the actor's condo for a drink the same night. 'We have the drink and he asks if I would like another,' Brunton recalls. 'And I said sure. So, I have the second one, and then all of a sudden, I begin feeling very disoriented and dizzy, and I thought I was going to pass out. I said I need to sit down and he said sit over here and he had the giant yellow beanbag chair. So I sat down in that and leaned my head back and I must have passed out.'

'The next thing I remember I was coming to and he had my pants down around my ankles and he was groping my crotch and trying to get my underwear off and feeling me up at the same time, trying to get his hands down my underwear,' Brunton says. 'I came to and said, 'What are you doing?!' I said, 'I don't want to do this.' He goes, 'You need to relax. I am just trying to make you comfortable. Get comfortable.' And I said, 'No. I don't want to do this.' And I pushed him off and he said, 'OK, fine.' And I said, 'I am going to go,' and he said, 'If you feel you must. You're in no condition to drive.' I said, 'I don't care I want to go.' So I managed to get my pants up and compose myself and I was just shocked. I walked out and went to my car until I felt well enough to drive home, and that was that.'"

The Hollywood Reporter added that they had corroborated Buntin story with "four longtime friends of Brunton -- Norah Roadman, Rob Donovan, Stephen Blackshear and Jan Steward -- who said that he had confided in them about the Takei encounter years ago."

The incident has brought to the forefront an appearance by Takei on Howard Stern's show last month in which he was asked about the Harvey Weinstein snafu. According to DListed.com, the exchange went as follows:

"During their interview, Howard remarked that the irony of the situation is that Trump ended up in the White House after he bragged about grabbing pussy.

"Both Howard and Robin Quivers then jokingly asked George if he's ever grabbed someone by the dick. George remained silent, which lead to the extremely awkward moment of Howard and Robin implying his silence said all that needed to be said. Howard proceeded to ask George if he ever sexually harassed anyone, and he answered:

"'[Laughs] Some people that are kind of, um, skittish, or maybe afraid, and you're trying to persuade'

Robin asked George if this grabbing happened at work, to which he replied it wasn't, and that it took place 'in my home.' Howard asked George if his method was to give a gentle squeeze on the balls to some guy who was hesitant about having sex, and George dialed up the gross factor by answering that it was 'More than gentle.'"

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