Two weeks ago British comedian James Veitch released a stand-up special on HBO Max called Straight to VHS. It was one of four specials that launched on the streamer on August 20 as part of its first foray into original stand-up, in an event billed as HBO Max’s Summer Comedy Festival. Within a few days, though, the special quietly disappeared from the service. Some had noted the absence on social media, but Paste learned about its disappearance when the writer assigned to review it for us couldn’t find it on the streamer that was heavily promoting it just days earlier. Veitch’s special simply vanished. Clearly something was up.
On Tuesday The Hollywood Reporter ran a lengthy, thoroughly researched article revealing that multiple women have accused Veitch of rape and sexual assault. The article shares harrowing and graphic details from several women who attended Sarah Lawrence College while Veitch was a graduate student there, and it paints the picture of a serial predator who preyed upon women several years younger than him, inflicting both emotional and physical abuse.
That story broke days after the special was pulled from HBO Max. It’s safe to assume it was removed after Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters reached out to the company for comment. In her article she quotes a statement from a company spokesman: “We were deeply disturbed to learn of these allegations of unacceptable behavior by James Veitch and will be removing the special from our platform for now.”
Veitch didn’t provide a comment to The Hollywood Reporter, but “a source close to him” denied the accusations.
Veitch joins several other comedians who have been accused this summer of a variety of sexual misconduct. Chris D’Elia was accused of misconduct with minors and exposing himself, Bryan Callen has been accused of rape and sexual assault, and Jeff Ross was accused of having a long-running sexual relationship with a 15-year-old when he was in his 30s. Obviously it isn’t unique to the world of comedy—and the allegations against Veitch revealed in the Reporter predate his comedy career—but predators and abusers are a serious problem within comedy and need to be rooted out.