10 celebrities who came bouncing back after sexual assault allegations

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, you'd think it would be a certain that the disgraced film producer will never step foot in Hollywood again, let alone make another movie. Accused of sex crimes by almost 100 women, dismissed from his company and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, at first look, there appears to be nothing Weinstein can do to regain his place as the number one movie mogul in Tinseltown.

However, as unthinkable as it is, it seems we shouldn't count him out just yet. Dozens of celebrities have made spectacular comebacks after being accused of sexual harassment or assault. In fact, their return to the spotlight has been so successful that many will have forgotten that they were ever accused of a crime in the first place. Although this is not to say that the film producer will be welcomed with open arms, it is to say that others before him have done it, and done it well. Believe me when I say that anything - and I mean anything - is possible in Hollywood.

Mike Tyson

On February 10, 1992, an Indianapolis jury found Mike Tyson guilty of raping 18-year-old Miss Black America contestant Desiree Washington in a hotel room the year before. The professional boxer, who claimed the intercourse was consensual, was sentenced to six years in prison, along with four years of probation. Despite being 25 years old at the time of the crime, he was assigned to the Indiana Youth Center (now the Plainfield Correctional Facility) and served less than three years of his sentence in the end.

After he was released, Tyson fought in a series of comeback fights, winning the WBC and WBA titles, making him the first heavyweight boxer to simultaneously hold the WBA, WBC and IBF titles and the only heavyweight to successively unify them. Despite the conviction for rape, along with many other run-ins with the law, Tyson is remembered as one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time and even appeared in the 2009 hit film The Hangover.

Mel Gibson

Many fans will recall Mel Gibson's much-publicised downfall back in the early 2000s. Among other things, the actor was arrested for drink driving and exposed for making anti-semitic comments. However, in 2010 came yet another shameful incident when he was caught on tape verbally abusing his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva. In the recording, Gibson is heard calling his ex a "b****" and a "whore", before telling her "You look like a fucking pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of n****r, it will be your fault." Later on he goes on to threaten her, saying: "I am going to come and burn the fucking house down… but you will blow me first."

Although the Braveheart actor was certainly punished at the time for his despicable comments, he was able to make a successful comeback after apologising for the "irrationally heated discussion" and claiming that the tapes had been edited. After disappearing from the public eye for a while, Gibson returned to star in Blood Father and direct Hacksaw Ridge, which won two Academy Awards, in 2016. In addition, he has got involved in the Weinstein scandal, stating: "It’s painful, but I think pain is a precursor to change.”

Madonna and Sean Penn Credit: Getty

Sean Penn

In the late 1980s singer Madonna allegedly filed a police report accusing her then-husband actor Sean Penn of sexual assault. According to reports, Madonna claimed that Penn - during an argument - drunkenly bound her to a chair with a heavy twine, threatened to cut off her hair and assaulted her with a baseball bat. Furthermore, he only untied her after she agreed to perform a degrading sex act on him. An account of the event claims that Madonna went straight to the police station after the assault and staggered into the sheriff’s office, with Lieutenant Bill McSweeny reportedly saying: "I hardly recognised her as Madonna. She was weeping, her lip was bleeding and she had obviously been struck."

Years later, Madonna denied all accounts of the assault, releasing a statement that denied Penn ever "struck me, 'tied me up,' or physically assaulted me” and branding any report stating otherwise as “completely outrageous, malicious, reckless and false”. Her now ex-husband went on to have a successful acting career, starring in Milk and directing Into the Wild and The Last Face.

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham was accused of molesting her little sister when she wrote of an incident that occurred when they were younger in her 2014 memoir Not That Kind of Girl. One passage in particular told of the time that Dunham was seven and her sister was one and playing on the driveway. Dunham wrote that “curiosity got the best” of her and she opened her sister’s vagina only to call for her mother when she found the toddler had “six or seven pebbles in there”. In another passage she described trying to persuade her sister to “kiss her on the lips for five seconds” by offering gifts of sweets or coins. “Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl, I was trying,” wrote the Girls star.

Despite the actress and writer's claims that she was "dismayed over the recent interpretation", critics did not accept her protestations and claimed that there was "no non-horrific interpretation of the episode". Nonetheless, the incident - along with several over slip-ups - didn't exactly hurt Dunham's career, with her going on to finish the critically-acclaimed Girls series and start a feminist newsletter. In 2018, it was announced that she would be remaking British sitcom Camping.

Casey Affleck

Actor Casey Affleck was sued for sexual harassment by two members of the I’m Still Here crew in 2010. One of his accusers, Amanda White, claimed that Affleck instructed another crew member to flash his penis at her and alleged that when she refused to share a hotel room with him, he tried to intimidate her by grabbing her, later sending her a stream of abusive text messages. His other accuser, Magdalena Górka, described waking up in the middle of the night to find Affleck in bed with her, caressing her back with his arm around her. According to the lawsuit she filed, he only left the room after she told him multiple times to do so and “she did not know where he had touched her while she was sleeping.” Affleck denied all wrongdoing and settled both claims in private in 2010.

Rather than merely surviving the sexual harassment claims, Affleck soared to grade-A movie stardom after the allegations, winning the 2017 Best Actor Oscar for his film Manchester by the Sea. In addition, he received critical acclaim for his leading role in the supernatural drama film A Ghost Story.

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck joined a chorus of others in denouncing the actions of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein when the scandal came to light in late 2017. However, people on the internet were quick to remind him that he wasn't exactly perfect when it came to sexual harassment. A Twitter user caused a storm when she brought up the fact that the actor had inappropriately groped actress Hilarie Burton during a 2003 appearance on MTV’s Total Request Live.

At the time, the incident had gone over most people's heads and Affleck had gone on to have a triumphant movie career, starring in films like Argo and Batman v Superman. However, one person who had not forgotten it was Burton, who reminisced that she "had to laugh back then so she wouldn't cry".

The actor apologised for the incident in October 2017, admitting wrongdoing, but also claimed that he couldn't remember the event. He said: “What I was accused of by a woman was of touching her breast while I gave her a hug. I don’t remember it, but I absolutely apologised for it. I certainly don’t think she’s lying or making it up.”

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Britney Spears

In 2010, Britney Spears' bodyguard launched a lawsuit against the singer, accusing her of sexually harassing him on numerous occasions and claiming that the singer walked around naked in front of him and that he felt pressured by her to reciprocate or risk losing his job. He recounted one occasion when he was requested to enter the pop star's bedroom, saying: "So I go in, and I'm kind of looking to see where she's at, and as I walk down the hall I look to the left and she's standing in the living room next to the couch and is completely nude. She didn't say anything. She kind of stared at me and kind of went like, 'Oh,' like, 'Oops' like 'what am I doing?' I said, 'Do you need anything?' She goes, 'Give me two bottles of 7Up.' I turn(ed) around the leave and she mumbled, 'What are you, a f*cking f*ggot?'"

The Baby One More Time singer denied the accusations, claiming Flores was trying to "take advantage of the Spears family and make a name of himself." However, the star also settled the case out of court, reportedly to prevent humiliating details coming to light. Since then, Spears has gone from strength to strength, releasing new albums and maintaining a residency in Las Vegas.

Sean Kingston

Popstar Sean Kingston faced charged in 2010 after Carissa Capeloto claimed that he, his bodyguard and a member of his band gang-raped her after his Seattle show. According to Capeloto, she was unable to consent because they had been smoking pot and drinking vodka and she was taken to a hospital to be treated for physical injuries consistent with rape. However, the case against the Beautiful Girls singer was later dropped after police determined Capeloto wasn't credible enough to pursue the case. He did, however, pay Capeloto $5 million in order to settle a civil trial later on.

Since settling the case, Kingston has continued to succeed in the music industry, recording songs with Justin Bieber and Jason Derulo. He has also released a fourth studio album and announced the release of the "Made in Jamaica" mixtape in 2017.

Al Gore Credit: Getty

Al Gore

The Clinton administration's vice president was accused of sexual abuse in 2006 by Oregon woman Molly Hagerty. However, despite her claims, a failed polygraph test reportedly deemed the case inappropriate for criminal prosecution. Nonetheless, this was just the beginning of the claims against the Democrat. Just four years later, two massage therapists came out and accused Gore of sexual assault, stating that he asked for a "chakra release" during his massage, with one of them claiming that she was "repeatedly subjected to unwanted sexual touching.”

Gore, who is a Nobel Prize winner, denied the allegations, stating he was "completely baffled" by the accusations. He was later cleared of the incident, with authorities citing "contradictory evidence" as justification for the conclusion of their investigation. Gore's career has seemingly remained unaffected by these incidents, afterwards releasing films on climate change, as well as becoming a well-known public speaker on the matter.

CeeLo Green

In 2012, Green was accused of sexual battery by a woman leading to a nearly year-long investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department. The singer, also accused of slipping ecstasy into the woman's drink, was not charged with rape after prosecutors found the sex to be consensual. However, soon after pleading no contest to a felony charge of administering ecstasy, the singer caused controversy when he defended himself on Twitter, where he implied that it was not rape if the person is "passed out". He wrote: "If someone is passed out they're not even WITH you consciously, so WITH implies consent. People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!"

Green soon removed the tweets, apologising and stating that he would never condone the "harm of any woman". Reportedly, he was so regretful about the tweets (and how people now perceived him) that he wanted to name his new album Girl Power. In spite of this, the album was released in 2015 and named Heart Blanche.

It's pretty inconceivable that anyone could make a comeback after being accused of sexual assault, but these examples prove that it definitely does happen. So, what do you think? Should they really have been forgiven by the public for their crimes? Oh, and in other news, it appears that Harvey Weinstein may not even be legally punished for his alleged actions.