The California watchdog agency tasked with ensuring safety in the workplace confirmed Wednesday it is investigating porn actor James Deen's production company after allegations that the star of thousands of hard-core films sexually assaulted women on and off movie sets.
State Division of Occupational Safety and Health spokeswoman Julia Bernstein said the investigation was opened Tuesday and could last as long as six months. She said investigators were prompted by a complaint, but declined to give any indication what type of workplace safety violation was alleged.
Deen, who over the past week has been accused by eight porn actresses, including his former girlfriend, of raping or assaulting them, has vigorously denied the allegations. He noted he's neither been charged with a crime nor sued by any of his accusers.
OSHA is barred from revealing who files a workplace complaint, but the porn industry's longtime nemesis, Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said it was his organization.
Weinstein, whose group led a successful voter initiative requiring the use of condoms in porn movies made in Los Angeles County, said the AHF originally accused James Deen Productions of ignoring that requirement after it reviewed several recent films he appeared in. Weinstein added the complaint was amended in the past week after accounts of the rape allegations surfaced on the Internet.
"James Deen could now be cited for workplace violence in addition to health and safety violations," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Deen did not respond to phone and email messages from the AP, but he told The Daily Beast he's never assaulted a woman on or off a movie set.
He acknowledged that sometimes he gets very aggressive in his films, many of which are known for rough sex. But he added he knows the limits of what's allowed.
"If at any point I pushed boundaries past the point of comfort, I am sorry," he said. "I have always tried to respect people's limits and safe words and operated within that space."
As proof, he gave the website an outtake from a film in which he and his former girlfriend, porn actress Stoya, are having rough sex when she suddenly cries, "I don't want to do that."
He quickly stops and apologizes, according to the website.
Deen, 29, is arguably the biggest star in a profession that, until he burst upon the scene 10 years ago, saw its only marquee names belonging to women like Jenna Jameson and Tori Black. With his boyish good looks and rakish charm he is the antithesis of the ugly male porn actor, providing a fantasy figure for women viewers.
He's also been one of the industry's most outspoken and articulate opponents of condoms in porn films.