Comedian Tom Ballard accused of sexually assaulting man in hotel room
Australian comedian Tom Ballard has strongly denied an accusation he indecently assaulted a man in a hotel room four years ago.
The 28-year-old said it was "extremely difficult" to address the claim - publicly shared on Facebook today - about a sexual encounter in 2014.
Ballard, who hosts ABC’s Tonightly program, said he had been made aware of the allegations six months ago.
"As a comedian, I am no fan of being taken seriously. But today is an exception. This is an extremely difficult statement for me to write, but it's necessary," Ballard said in a written statement posted to his website.
"Over the past six months I have become aware of a claim being made about me. It involves an allegation of sexual assault: an allegation that I completely deny in the strongest terms possible.
"It fundamentally goes against who I am as a person and everything I believe in. Today that claim was aired publicly.
Ballard said the claim is "deeply distressing" and is affecting his work and mental health.
"Four years ago I had a consensual sexual experience with someone. I had absolutely no idea he believed it wasn't consensual until six months ago. His version of that experience as described on social media is simply not what happened.
"I abhor sexual assault and sexual violence. I absolutely support the philosophy of the #MeToo movement: I believe in supporting victims and ensuring those who have done wrong face justice.
"But I have not done anything wrong. Any suggestion otherwise is false, deeply distressing and unhelpful."
An ABC spokesman told Fairfax they are aware of the allegations.
"The ABC takes any allegation of harassment very seriously and does not condone or tolerate any inappropriate behaviour," he said.
"All ABC employees are made aware of and must abide by our discrimination, bullying and harassment policy at all times.
"We have no further comment to make at this stage."
Ballard's program was recently renewed for a second season.