- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2017

Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner has responded to a sexual harassment allegation by a 39-year-old writer, saying he did try to initiate sex with the writer but denying that he offered any work in exchange.

Ben Ryan told BuzzFeed News that in 2005, he was assigned by Mr. Jenner to write a piece for Men’s Journal magazine, of which Mr. Jenner was a former owner.

Mr. Ryan, then 27, said Mr. Wenner would check in on him now and then about his piece and one evening invited him to his Manhattan townhouse.

Upon arrival at Mr. Wenner’s home, Mr. Ryan said the publisher fixed him a drink and they sat down on the couch.

BuzzFeed reports, “Wenner had been out as gay for 10 years by that point, and Ryan said he was aware that he might have expectations, but the young writer figured he could hold the line. Then suddenly, said Ryan, his host pounced.”

“I had Jann Wenner’s tongue in my mouth,” Mr. Ryan recalled. “I went along for a second but then said something to the effect of ‘Oh please, I’m not that kind of girl.’”

He said the encounter quickly turned sour, and Mr. Wenner became “pseudo-threatening of how bad it could be if this got out.”

“It was like the entire temperature of the room changed in a flash,” Mr. Ryan said. “All of a sudden I was the bad guy and I felt like I was in the hot seat and being grilled.”

He said he was about to walk out of the house when Mr. Wenner offered to give him a writing contract if he stayed.

“I think there was that moment where it’s like time stood still, and you’re imagining how this could be the answer to all my struggles. All I would have to do is this one thing,” Mr. Ryan said. “But that’s not me. I would never do that.”

Four people, including Mr. Ryan’s boyfriend at the time, confirmed to BuzzFeed that he told them the same story soon after it allegedly happened.

Mr. Ryan said he felt ready to share his story in light of the national debate regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, which has so far claimed the careers of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner and Louis C.K., among others.

“I feel we are in such a unique moment in our evolution as a society — a moment when people are genuinely ready to listen to stories such as this — that I must take a stand to help continue the public conversation about sexual harassment and assault in all its forms,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Wenner told BuzzFeed in a statement that while he did try to initiate sex with Mr. Ryan, he never offered any work in exchange.

“I met Ben twelve years ago and I attempted to have a sexual liaison with him,” Mr. Wenner said. “He turned me down, which I respected. I had no intention of making him feel uncomfortable. His piece was subsequently published in any case; no work was promised and no work was lost. I have never and would never make an offer of this kind.”

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