Rainn Wilson to produce TV series with accused rapist

On Monday, Deadline announced that “The Office” star Rainn Wilson is set to produce “Hollywood And Vine” a half-hour comedy starring Vine stars like Jerry Purpdrank and Curtis Lepore.

If the second name sounds familiar, it’s probably from either his Vine notoriety or the fact that he made headlines late last year when his ex and fellow Vine star Jessi Smiles accused him of raping her while she was unconscious and suffering from a concussion. In February, Lepore took a plea deal where he pled no contest to a felony assault charge on his ex. According to a TMZ post from February, “Under the plea deal, Lepore has to complete 24 days of community service and a year of counseling … and if he holds his end of the deal up, the formal conviction will read “MISDEMEANOR assault.”

As writer Rob Fee pointed out in an essay in Thought Catalog titled “Rainn Wilson Proves, Once Again, That Hollywood Doesn’t Care About Rape Victims,” once Lepore beat the rape conviction, he took to Twitter to post this:

lepore twitter

In the sobering essay, Fee goes on to argue that Lepore is just one in a long line of accused abusers who are constantly given the benefit of the doubt when show biz deems them bankable. Lepore is merely the next in a long line of abusers to have his troublesome history with women swept under the rug. Fee name checks the likes of Bill Cosby, CeeLo Green and Charlie Sheen as part of a long and lasting legacy of abusers who have either suffered minimal consequences or none at all in regards to their transgressions against women.

“We believe this show is going to be the first to celebrate these amazing, talented Viners in an authentic way and bring their style of humor to a broader audience,” Wilson told Deadline. “Plus, who doesn’t love a six-second twerk?”

Fair enough, but given the glut of Vine personalities out there, surely you can find a six-second twerk from someone who didn’t plea down a rape charge.

However, the creepy and callous date rape joke Wilson posted on Twitter in 2012 in response to the rape scene from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” probably lends credence to the accusation that Wilson doesn’t give a damn about rape victims in and of itself.

Update: After considerable backlash on social media and the start of a Change.org petition, Rainn Wilson made the following statement on Thursday.

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This was swiftly followed by a more decisive statement on Friday:

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So, there you have it. Curtis Lepore has left Wilson’s forthcoming “Hollywood and Vine” show.

In response, Rob Fee posted a follow-up Thought Catalog piece titled “Rainn Wilson Does The Right Thing And Cuts Ties With Accused Rapist.”

Fee earnestly thanks Wilson for making the right decision while pointing out that it’s troubling that it took this long for Wilson to cut ties with Lepore. At best, it’s a situation where Wilson didn’t do his due diligence and do a background check or a simple Google search before starting a professional relationship with someone. At worst, it’s a situation where Wilson knew about Lepore’s criminal past going into the project and didn’t act until he was publicly called out. Either way, thanks to public outcry, Lepore is one known abuser who won’t be rewarded by Hollywood. At least, not this time.

Source: Deadline