Ugh, ANOTHER one, another goddamn roach scurrying across the floor. This time, it’s Kevin Connolly, best known as E from Entourage, a charter member of the Pussy Posse, director of cinematic classic Gotti, is the latest bad man in the news. Yesterday, the Daily Beast published a report about the experiences of Gracie Cox, a former costume designer who worked as a costume assistant on Gardener of Eden, Connolly’s feature film debut from 2007. Cox’s story is like so many other stories we’ve heard, of women subjected to inappropriate comments and harassment in the workplace—often dismissed as “flirting”—but the situation escalated the night of the wrap party, when Cox alleges that Connolly led her to a room and sexually assaulted her. (Connolly has denied it, claiming their encounter was consensual and that he is embarrassed for behaving “unprofessionally”.)
Cox’s story is supported by her department head on Gardener of Eden, costume designer Amy Westcott, who saw Cox immediately after the assault, understood something had happened—reading between the lines, it seems Westcott knew EXACTLY what happened—and confronted Connolly during the party. Multiple witnesses verify they saw Westcott confront Connolly, and that it was clear Westcott was “very upset” with him (emphasis theirs). Connolly claims Westcott was upset with him AND Cox for being “unprofessional”—there’s that word again—but the two witnesses who spoke to Daily Beast writer Marlow Stern deny that, and say that it was only Connolly with whom Westcott was upset. That is unusual, a couple of below-the-line industry workers recalling a wrap party so clearly 15 entire years later. Crew members bounce from job to job, can you imagine how many gigs they’ve worked over the last 15 years, how many wrap parties there have been? And yet, they can recall that wrap party clearly enough to confidently state that Amy Westcott confronted Kevin Connolly and ONLY Kevin Connolly. That’s how big of an impression that night made.
In the days after the assault, Cox spoke to friends, both in New York and at home in South Carolina, all of whom verify they remember Cox telling them what happened. She also told her therapist, who has a written record from 2005 of the incident (Gardener of Eden filmed in 2005). But Cox did not name Connolly publicly or press charges because she was afraid of being seen as “not cool to work with”. She was just beginning her career in film and television, Gardener of Eden represented a huge professional opportunity, and, really, what she feared was being seen as “unprofessional”. No one likes a tattletale after all, and who are you, some insignificant set assistant, to tell tales out of school about a man with connections. Kevin Connolly might not seem so scary, in and of himself, but he is best friends with Leonardo DiCaprio (whose production company oversaw Gardener of Eden). By 2005, DiCaprio was already a two-time Oscar nominee with a successful production shingle. He’s not answerable for Connolly’s behavior, but it’s not hard to understand why someone fresh in the industry would be afraid to come forward with a sexual assault claim against his best friend.
Inevitably, whenever I write about stories like this, some choad emails to ask why I’m so quick to believe women without “evidence”, what about due process, blah blah blah. First, I believe women because I am a woman and I live in the world. Grow up if you think this sh-t doesn’t happen. Further, there are MANY people who can attest that Gracie Cox went through something profoundly upsetting. There is someone who saw her THAT NIGHT and understood something bad had happened. NO ONE is backing up Connolly’s assertions that his confrontation with Westcott was a mutual affair, what is happening is two separate people saying Westcott blew up at him and only him. If your finger is on the “send” button to ask, “What about due process,” read Gracie Cox’s story, and then ask yourself why it upsets you so much to believe this happens to women.
There will be plenty of people who discount Cox’s story because she didn’t come forward soon enough, she was drinking that night—you know the song and dance. We all know the statistics. The vast majority of sexual assaults go unreported, and of those that are reported, less than 5% of perpetrators go to jail. If you’re waiting on due process to take care of every bad man, then you’re counting on a system that fails victims of sexual assault at alarming rates. We should be shocked and ashamed of a justice system so wholly incapable of coping with one of the most common crimes. Due process is a f-cking joke. There will be no due process FOR GRACIE because the system isn’t even prepared to acknowledge it can take years, even decades, for survivors to come forward. These guys—and they’re all guys—email me like f-ckin’ keyboard warriors, spewing “due process” like they’re the first f-ckin’ genius to come up with that old canard. “Don’t you believe in due process,” some floating turd will inevitably email me today. No, I don’t, because I’m a grownup and I don’t believe fairy tales. But I do believe Gracie Cox.