Sexual Assault Allegations Against Blake Bailey Halt Shipping of His Philip Roth Book

“I can assure you that I have never had consensual sex with anyone and when it comes to a point I will vigorously defend my reputation and livelihood,” he wrote in the email checked by The Times. “In the meantime, I appeal to your decency: I have a wife and a young daughter who love me and are dependent on me, and such a rumor, even if it is not true, would destroy them.”

“We took this claim very seriously. We were aware that the allegation had also been forwarded to two people at Mr. Bailey’s former employer and a reporter at the New York Times, a news organization well equipped to investigate them, ”said a Norton spokeswoman . “We took steps, including questioning Mr. Bailey about the allegations, which he categorically denied, and we were aware of the sender’s request for a guarantee of anonymity.”

Former students remember him as a charismatic role model who treated them as intellectual peers. But he also created an atmosphere of intimacy that could cross the line, such as encouraging students to write about romantic relationships in magazines they brought him for comment. “There was an environment full of dirty jokes and permissiveness,” said Elizabeth Gross, a former student who now teaches at Tulane University. Some students said his utterances and behavior were attempts to “groom” them for sexual encounters years later.

Eve Peyton, 40, a former student who now works in public relations at a New Orleans high school, said Mr Bailey raped her when she was a graduate student. When she was his student, he treated her as “one of his special girls,” she said, attention that felt flattering and empowering at the time.

She was a PhD student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism in June 2003 and engaged to be married. She and Mr. Bailey were both visiting New Orleans at the same time and having a drink. After that, he invited her back to the place where he lived, where he kissed her, initiated oral sex, and when she squirmed he put her to the bed and forcibly had sex with her, she said. He finally stopped when she told him she wasn’t using birth control, she remembered.

After driving her to her father’s house where she lived, Mr. Bailey said he had “wanted her” since the day they met when she was 12, Ms. Peyton said.

She told two friends about the attack shortly after it happened but didn’t go to the police, partly because she was overwhelmed and wanted to get on with her life, she said. She later saw a therapist experienced in counseling on sexual assault.

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