Apparently the comedian has threatened The Guardian with legal action over its article about his on-stage sexual assault. The original story by Mary O'Hara has been removed from the website, along with a follow up article also condemning Vegas. Apparently the UK has pretty strict libel laws, so there's a chance Vegas could make a libel case. Cara at The Curvature makes a good point that in everything she's read, there's no dispute over the assault itself, but over whether he penetrated the victim.
Does the guy have to be convicted of sexual assault before it's allowed to be identified as such? I know journalists have to be careful about describing supposed crimes, but O'Hara was in the audience. If she saw him sexually assault the girl, shouldn't she be able to say so? I don't really feel like using "allegedly" here works, because she witnessed it, along with everyone else in the club. I'm guessing the issue is with the fact that it was printed in a newspaper as opposed to her testifying in court or something.
Steve Bennett at Chortle, a UK comedy website, was at the gig and didn't perceive any molestation (at least from where he was sitting). He, at several points, tries to explain Vegas' behavior.
"The fact it was Johnny Vegas rather than another comic is important. This wasn’t a swaggering lothario using his charm to seduce a woman, but an overweight, desperate loser trying to do the same, and failing miserably. Again, that’s not enough to excuse him if the woman did feel assaulted, but it may explain his motivation."
Somehow I don't think being an "overweight, desperate loser" is credible motivation for sexually assaulting a person. If Vegas met the victim in a bar and sexually assaulted her there, it would still be considered sexual assault and his image as an "overweight, desperate loser" wouldn't be an excuse for his motivation.
Bennett makes a point that lots of people all over the internet (including me) have been discussing what occurred on stage. He says "offense is in the eye of the beholder" and that most people writing about what happened didn't actually see the show. While I think it's important to be knowledgeable on what is being discussed, such as seeing a movie before reviewing it, I do think people can, and should, speak out when a person's rights have been violated. After all, if no one in the audience who did see what happened stopped it or called it out as sexual assault, it's important that someone does.
"Until the young woman herself comes forward, we will never know whether Vegas did go too far, or whether she took it in the spirit it was intended...
The unavoidably conclusion is that, except from the woman herself, everyone there – let alone everyone who wasn’t - just doesn’t know whether Vegas strayed into the criminal."
Thoughts on this last part? I personally think it was a criminal act because he didn't obtain her consent. He can intend for it to be comedy, but that doesn't mean it's not sexual assault. As for if she wasn't offended by it, is it still sexual assault? I say yes. Often times victims are raped but don't identify it as such due to various reasons. Doesn't mean they weren't raped, though.
Here's a video of Vegas on Jonathon Ross' BCC talk show. It's from May 9 and Vegas talks a bit about the incident at the show, then quickly moves on to insulting other women. Lots of fun. It's the second half of the interview - Ross introduces the controversy a bit at the end of the first section, and actually makes some insightful comments about how Vegas' act is based on doing unpredictable things, and if someone has a reputation of being edgy, they have to keep doing more outrageous things to keep their rep. I wouldn't call sexually assaulting a woman on stage "edgy," however.
Thanks to Amberwolf for the link.