sexual assault

Kevin Connolly Accused of Sexual Assault by Gardener of Eden Costume Designer

Photo: Zach Pagano/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Gracie Cox, a former Hollywood costume designer with credits including Orange Is the New Black and Gossip Girl, is speaking out about an alleged 2005 sexual assault by Kevin Connolly during the wrap party for his directorial debut, The Gardener of Eden. She detailed her experience with the Entourage star to the Daily Beast. Cox said that Connolly had been “mildly flirtatious” with her during the Gardener of Eden shoot — her first time working on a feature film — and he asked her to have a smoke during a celebration at the since-closed Manhattan restaurant Butter. Cox said she “didn’t want to be rude,” so she went with him, though she didn’t smoke. Connolly allegedly took her to a separate lounge in the restaurant, proceeded to kiss her, and then, she said, “pulled down my pants, and turned me around, and within no time was inside of me.” Cox said Connelly didn’t use a condom and ejaculated inside her.

“There was not really a chance in my mind to object or resist,” Cox said. “It just happened really fast. I froze and was in shock. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before in any way, shape or form. I was completely caught off-guard.” Afterward, Cox said, “He took a pillow off of a couch, threw it at me, and told me to ‘clean myself up.’ He then told me that he was going to leave and to wait a few minutes, because he didn’t want anyone to see us together.”

Afterward, Cox told lead costume designer Amy Westcott about the incident, and Westcott reportedly confronted Connolly during the party. Westcott confirmed Cox’s account to the Daily Beast, which also reviewed emails between Cox and Westcott about the assault. In one email exchange, Cox said she was not sober, which Westcott said “impaired” Cox’s “ability to consent.” Four of Cox’s friends confirmed that she told them about the incident, which she described as an “assault,” in the days afterward; the Daily Beast also reviewed a 2005 letter from Cox’s therapist, which said that Cox “felt she could not say no” to Connolly and “did not want to have sex with him.”

A statement from Connolly to the Daily Beast, through his attorney Marty Singer, claims “the incident with Ms. Cox was consensual, and [Connolly] categorically denies any claim that it was assault.” Connolly was dating heiress Nicky Hilton at the time and claimed he did not smoke. “Kevin completely understands Amy’s displeasure with the consensual act that transpired between Kevin and Gracie 15 years ago, after production had wrapped and they were no longer working together on the movie,” the statement continues. “Kevin acknowledges the lack of professionalism on his part, but he adamantly denies that it was anything other than a mutual consensual encounter.”

Cox said she did not get a rape kit done, because she “was definitely fearful of not being able to work again in TV and film” at the time, which a friend corroborated. She was set to move to Los Angeles to work on Entourage, with Westcott, after wrapping The Gardener of Eden, but she didn’t pursue the project given Connolly’s involvement. Today, she’s no longer a costume designer, instead working as a children’s therapist. “He thinks he’s untouchable, and that’s part of the reason why it’s been hard to come forward about it,” Cox said of Connolly, adding, “I want it to be known that he is dangerous, and I want him to not get away with it any longer.”

Kevin Connolly Accused of Sexual Assault by Costume Designer