A masseuse accused comedian Russell Brand of physical assault in 2014, and a judge sided with the actor-comedian, calling her claims “inconsistent” and accusing the woman of harassing Brand and his then-partner.
The bombastic author and comedian-turned-wellness guru and podcast host is in the news due to a Times investigation published Saturday, which centered on four women who have accused him of rape and sexual assault between 2008 and 2013. While there is no evidence to suggest this 2014 allegation is overtly similar in nature to those discussed in the Times report, the story has prompted renewed attention into Brand’s past in general.
According to a Nov. 2014 court order written by the Hon. Justice Mrs. Carr, in early June 2014, masseuse Szilvia Berki — then a resident of Wimbledon — was hired by Brand’s then-girlfriend, British journalist and philanthropist Jemima Khan, to give Brand a massage for his birthday at her Oxfordshire home for £500. The news was reported on in various U.K. and U.S. news outlets at the time.
“There is a dispute as to what occurred at that meeting,” reads the court order written by Justice Carr, which was reviewed by Rolling Stone. While Brand and Khan claimed they were “uneasy with the Defendant and did not wish to proceed with the massage,” Berki alleged that “she was the victim of wrongful and criminal conduct,” including that Brand had pushed her and that she had been attacked by Khan’s dog. Berki also reportedly told the court Brand had treated her “like a prostitute” during the meeting. (Representatives for Carr, Brand, and Khan did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s requests for comment. Berki declined to comment on the allegations, citing the court injunction.)
On June 14, 2014, according to the order, Berki reported the alleged assault to the Thames Valley Police, which “informed the Claimants that there was no case for them to answer and informed the Defendant that the investigation was concluded,” the order states. This prompted Berki to issue an official complaint about the investigation and to send several emails to media outlets such as the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph detailing the alleged assault, as well as post a Change.org petition titled “to serve justice and to prosecute Jemima Khan and Russell Brand.”
Khan and Brand’s lawyers staunchly denied the claims, saying that there had been no physical contact between Berki and Brand whatsoever. When they threatened to pursue legal action against Berki, calling the claims “false and defamatory,” she continued to post on Twitter about them, according to the order. An attorney for Brand issued an injunction against her that August barring Berki from “making any approach to or responding to any enquiry from any journalist or media organization in relation to the Claimants or either of them.”
In the November 2014 order, Carr states “there is a clear dispute as to the veracity of the Defendant’s allegations,” adding that Berki’s claims “are on their face internally inconsistent and have enlarged over time.” As evidence, the judge points out that Berki sent an email to Brand and Khan afterward saying it was nice to meet them and wishing Brand a happy birthday.
“I therefore conclude that, on the material currently available, the Defendant is unlikely to establish a defence to the claim in harassment,” Carr wrote, granting Brand and Khan an anti-harassment order against Berki.
In the Times investigation, four women accused Brand of sexual assault between 2008 and 2013. One of the women alleges Brand was in a relationship with her and sexually assaulted her when she was just 16 years old, while another alleges that Brand raped her in Los Angeles in 2012.
Brand has strongly denied all of the allegations against him, claiming in a video on his YouTube channel posted on Friday that all of his sexual encounters have been “consensual.” The report has prompted Brand’s agency to drop him and U.K. police to urge other potential victims to come forward, with London’s Metropolitan police force saying on Monday they had received a report from a woman claiming to have been assaulted by Brand in London in 2003.