Three women have gone on the record with NPR's All Things Considered--and at least seven others have spoken off the record with the show--about author Sherman Alexie's abusive treatment of them, confirming the anonymous and somewhat vague allegations that have been made recently online.
All Things Considered said that Alexie's behavior had "a clear pattern... The women reported behavior ranging from inappropriate comments both in private and in public, to flirting that veered suddenly into sexual territory, unwanted sexual advances and consensual sexual relations that ended abruptly. The women said Alexie had traded on his literary celebrity to lure them into uncomfortable sexual situations."
In each case, Alexie expressed an interest in the woman's writing, which vanished or became negligible after sexual interactions or attempts at sexual interactions. In one case, he bragged to a woman in front of others at a dinner that he could have sex with her "if he wanted to"--and at a later dated invited her to his hotel room. In other cases, he abruptly approached them physically, wanting to kiss them and have sex with them. Several of the women--at least two of those who went on the record are Native American--said they feared that Alexie, who was beloved in the Native American literary community, would ruin their careers.
Last week, Alexie issued a statement in response to online comments that said, in part, "Over the years, I have done things that have harmed other people, including those I love most deeply. To those whom I have hurt, I genuinely apologize. I am so sorry.... There are women telling the truth about my behavior and I have no recollection of physically or verbally threatening anybody or their careers. That would be completely out of character. I have made poor decisions and I am working hard to become a healthier man who makes healthier decisions. Again, I apologize to the people I have hurt. I am genuinely sorry."
As of last week, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.Mex., has renamed its Sherman Alexie Scholarship the MFA Alumni Scholarship. And Debbie Reese, editor of American Indians in Children's Literature, has removed Alexie's photo from the AICL's gallery of Native writers and illustrators.