When it comes to accusing powerful and famous people in the entertainment industry of sexual harassment, it seems that there is safety in numbers. Accusers are now coming out of the woodwork following the downfall of Harvey Weinstein. So far, just a handful of people in Hollywood have been accused, and now, one member of the publishing industry is faced with his past catching up to him.
Jann Wenner, the publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine, a man known to be an awful flirt, is the subject of an accusation from writer Ben Ryan. Ryan claims that Wenner invited him to his pad in upper Manhattan and there, made his move. Ryan wrote down the details in his journal the next day.
Thursday, August 11, 2005. Last night Jann Wenner asked me to come to his townhouse for a drink at 10:30 p.m. I knew this would happen sooner or later, I just didn’t think he’d take such a direct approach. It was the most pure form of sexual harassment: he pawed and groped and I insisted no but he persisted promising me a “25 article contract” in the most disingenuous voice. “Preferential treatment.” I was forced to kiss him. His mouth was dry and he was a serpent-like kisser, lashing with his tongue. After 90 minutes I left dignity relatively intact.
Several of Ryan’s friends – including his boyfriend at the time – recall him being distressed after the encounter.
Ryan’s boyfriend at the time, James Harris, lived near Wenner’s townhouse, and Ryan went right over. Harris confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Ryan told him Wenner had made a pass and offered a contract in exchange for sex. Three other people said Ryan told them the same thing — including a childhood friend whom he told at around the time of the incident, and two other longtime friends, one in Seattle and one in New York, whom he told in subsequent years….
Harris, Ryan’s ex-boyfriend, says…. “He was very upset about what transpired,” he recalled. “It was one of those things, that he’s a freelance writer, and these kinds of meetings and contacts are important for his career. He was hoping it would have been a big break for him.”
For his part, Wenner does remember the incident but called it a harmless flirtation. Since the man was known as an incorrigable flirt, he probably does think that. That does not make unwanted advances harmless.