Junot Díaz is adamantly denying sexual harassment allegations against him in his first interview since the news broke two months ago. Díaz was accused of forcibly kissing novelist Zinzi Clemmons and verbally accosting writers Carmen Maria Machado and Monica Byrne, as well as several other women.
“I did not forcibly kiss Zinzi Clemmons. I did not kiss Zinzi Clemmons. It didn’t happen,” he told The Boston Globe. Díaz claims he didn’t speak on the accusations earlier because “I didn’t feel like anyone would listen to me. I felt like people had already moved on to the punishment phase.”
The famous author not only denied the allegations, but distanced himself from his brief initial statement, which began with “I take responsibility for my past" and spoke of "learning from women’s stories in this essential and overdue cultural movement," but did not address any allegations.
“That statement is the worst thing I’ve written, the worst thing I’ve put my name to,” he told the Globe. “Boy, I wish I’d had the presence of mind to rewrite the damn thing.”
“There is a line between being a bad boyfriend and having a lot of regret, and predatory behavior,” he also said. “I was, like, ‘Yo, this doesn’t sound like anything that’s in my life, anything that’s me.’”
Since the article was published, several of Díaz’s accusers have disputed the ethics of the Globe’s reporting and the authenticity of the denial. Clemmons is among those who tweeted about the story, while also sharing screenshots of emails between her and Stephanie Ebbert, a gender issues reporter for the Globe who co-authored the piece.
The story was posited as a “#MeToo turning point,” something Diaz’s accusers Monica Byrne and Alisa Rivera disagree with. “Why would we be doing this if we weren’t telling the truth?” Byrne wrote. “We have nothing to gain and everything to lose. I’d rather be doing anything else.”