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Porn star who accused erotic actor James Deen of sexual assault hits out after award nomination

A porn star who accused fellow erotic actor James Deen of sexual assault has hit out at her alleged attacker after she was nominated for an award alongside him.

Ashley Fires said she hoped speaking out about the moment Deen allegedly ‘nearly raped’ her in 2015 would spur positive change in the adult entertainment industry and create better, safer working environments for other performers.

Instead, however, Fires said she experienced the complete opposite effect, leaving her ostracized, taunted and even bullied by her colleagues - some of whom she’d worked with for years.

‘The reason I put him on my "no list" was because he almost raped me,’ Fires told the Daily Beast in 2015, just days after Deen’s former porn star girlfriend Stoya publicly accused him of raping her.

Ashley Fires (left) said she hoped speaking out about the moment James Deen (right) allegedly ‘nearly raped’ her in 2015 would spur positive change in the adult entertainment industry and create better, safer working environments for other performers. Instead, however, Fires said she experienced the complete opposite effect, and instead she says she was ostracized, taunted and even bullied by her colleagues - some of whom she’d worked with for years

Fires said she had been getting out of a communal shower after a shoot at Kink, in San Francisco, when she had reached for her towel to dry off and felt Deen come up from behind her, and push ‘himself and his erection into my butt.’

‘He pushes me against the sink and starts grabbing on me and I was like, “No, no, no James, no,” and he released me from his grasp, and says, “You know, later if you want to f*** around I’m in room whatever-it-was,’ Fires continued.

‘I didn’t even know this guy, he was so out of line and entitled with my body.’

Fires would be one of three women to accuse Deen of sexual assault, an allegation that soon consumed her identity and negatively impacted her career.

In the wake of her allegations, Fires said she felt as if she couldn’t return to set. Though at the peak of her career, she didn’t want to – or couldn’t – bring herself to perform. She felt as if she so desperately needed to spend time away from being in front of the camera that she sought out jobs behind it, producing and directing.

‘I couldn’t be vulnerable for a little while because I’d been so vulnerable with that whole thing,’ she told the Daily Beast this week. ‘It was naïve. I thought there would be change, that there would be value afterwards that people would engage differently, and look at consent and on-set behavior.’

The fallout experienced by Fires is one of the leading reasons why so few instances of sexual assault are reported.

Statistics released by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), show as many as three out of every four sexual assaults go unreported. Twenty percent of those victims say it’s the ‘fear of retaliation’ that prevented them from speaking out.

Of those who do report it, more than 50 percent say they do so to protect and prevent anyone else from falling victim to their perpetrator.

In the wake of her allegations, Fires said she felt as if she couldn’t return to set. Though at the peak of her career, she didn’t want to – or couldn’t – bring herself to perform. She felt as if she so desperately needed to spend time away from being in front of the camera that she sought out jobs behind it, producing and directing

In the year that followed the purported assault, Fires says Deen continuously hounded her to ‘stop telling people about it’. When she refused to acquiesce, Deen allegedly asked her to at least stop telling people the real reason why she won’t work with him.

‘[Deen said] “Okay, can you just say something else? Say that I remind you of your brother,” is what he says — his advice to me — to tell people why I won’t work with him instead of the truth,’ Fires recounted.

Fires accusations followed similar allegations from Deen’s ex-girlfriend Stoya, who publicly accused him of raping her in a tweet, but failed to specify when the reported incident occurred.

‘James Deen held me down and f****d me while I said no, stop, used my safe word,’ Stoya wrote, who dated Deen in 2013. ‘I just can’t nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.’

Similarly, adult film actress Tori Lux recounted an alleged incident on June 2011, when she says Deen ‘ruthlessly attacked and degraded’ her, ‘leaving me with mental wounds that took years to heal.’

James, meanwhile, denied all three of the claims, calling them ‘egregious’, and insisting he respects women and knows ‘limits both professionally and privately’.

On reflection of Deens denials, Fires said: ‘After being blamed for my own sexual assault, after being bullied by James Deen to stop talking about it, after all of that, the patriarchal rape culture that perpetuates inequality was so in my face that it alerted me to a call of action.

‘I was disenfranchised. I was hurt. I had a lot of healing to do. It definitely made me angry enough to want to make impactful change when I wasn’t seeing anything happen within the adult industry.

‘It was very frustrating because nobody seemed to care,’ she told the Daily Beast.

Fires accusations followed similar allegations from Deen’s ex-girlfriend Stoya (left), who publicly accused him of raping her in a tweet, but failed to specify when the reported incident occurred

In the four years since, Fires has dedicated her time advocating for sex workers and fighting for equality at a legally-enforceable level, having started up the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) in New Hampshire.

‘We need to try to make some form of sex workers’ work safer. If sex workers were seen as human beings with rights, we wouldn’t have seen what happened [with James Deen] in 2015. We wouldn’t have seen people blaming victims, people lashing out and defending an alleged rapist,’ Fires said.

‘We wouldn’t have seen this if sex workers were not stigmatized and stereotyped and morally and ethically shunned in society and treated as less than.’

Fires has pledged to never be silent about her purported encounter with Deen, adding, ‘Every couple of years there should be a new article about James Deen. If people don’t know about it, it’s just this tongue-in-cheek taboo thing and nobody cares and we’re just like these not-real subhuman-type sex dolls.’

Despite the impact speaking out has had on her career, Fire’s says she doesn’t regret doing so. However she says she’s still subject to on-set ridicule, even now, from male colleagues.

‘People I had worked with for years no longer wanted to work with me because they thought I might be a problem for them on set,’ Fires told the Daily Beast.

‘Now when I go on a set there are #MeToo jokes. I did a scene last December and the director put his hand on me and said, “Is this okay? Are you going to tell people? Are you going to #MeToo me?” It’s things like that. Little things like “careful with this one,” “Is this consensual, Ashley? Is this okay?” and people make jokes about it.’

Citing a lack of accountability, Fires points the finger at American politics and white male privilege for the injustices women in the modern age are still subjected to.

‘Women don’t want to speak up because they’ll be labeled as difficult; their opportunities dry up if they speak out about any unsafe work environment or on-set assault. Women are punished for speaking the truth yet this white male privilege guy James Deen can just go on like no big deal,’ Fires said.

‘I really think it’s because of the unique reality we are living in right now, this normalization. You have Trump—look at how many women have gone public? Yeah, no big deal. He can just grab ‘em by the pussy, and it’s on tape, but no big deal, whatever, let’s reward the guy, make him president.’

Fires has pledged to never be silent about her purported encounter with Deen, adding, ‘Every couple of years there should be a new article about James Deen. If people don’t know about it, it’s just this tongue-in-cheek taboo thing and nobody cares and we’re just like these not-real subhuman-type sex dolls’

James denied all three of the sexual assault claims, calling them ‘egregious’, and insisting he respects women and knows ‘limits both professionally and privately’

Just like her analogy of President Trump’s election, Fires says the porn industry is also ‘a boy’s club’ that rewards bad behavior, citing the 2020 AVN and XBIZ Award nominations, where Deen’s name features on 14 different ballots, as evidence.

One of the awards Deen has been nominated for, ‘Best Gonzo Release’, is for a scene he reportedly directed involving Fires.

‘At first it made me sick,’ Fires recalled. ‘I don’t want to be associated with that.

‘It’s pretty much assumed the awards are based on that year’s releases, so why would a scene from three years ago be billed from his company and make it look like we worked together? It’s very misleading. I have never been in a scene directed by James Deen in my 17 years as a performer.’

Though slated as the movie’s director, Deen says he has no knowledge of the directorial credit and said he any references that he was are ‘wildly inaccurate’.

‘This is one of the only industries where the women make more than the men, and may quite possibly be the foundation of the industry. The women are the stakeholders but they don’t seem to matter as much as this one modern male porn actor, and it’s so frustrating,’ Fires surmised to the Daily Beast.

‘It’s the prevalence of rape culture being normalized and it reverberates everywhere, even in porn. And it’s not just normalized, these guys are actually getting rewarded.’

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