YouTuber Andrew Callaghan apologises after sexual misconduct allegations

Andrew Callaghan, an independent filmmaker and host of YouTube channels All Gas No Breaks and Channel5, has posted a video apology addressing allegations of sexual misconduct that were made against him in early January.

The 25-year-old posted the nearly five minute apology video to YouTube on Sunday, 15 January in which he responded to the allegations against him. Callaghan began the video by thanking “every single person” who has spoken out in the past week about his behaviour, and shared that he plans to seek professional treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous.

However, the documentary filmmaker maintained that he’s “always taken ‘no’ for an answer” and that several stories about him online are “not true” and are “missing important contextual information.”

“I never thought I’d make a video like this, but I think there’s an important conversation to be had and I just want to be fully accountable, honest and transparent with all of you guys,” Callaghan began the video. “So I’d like to start by thanking every single person who came out in the past week to speak about different ways in which my behaviour has made them feel uncomfortable or pressured during a sexual situation, and to people who said that I’ve made unwanted advances and had a hard time with rejection.”

The This Place Rules filmmaker also apologised for his “silence” since the sexual misconduct allegations first surfaced online, explaining he was in a “state of denial and shock”.

Callaghan added that he wanted “to make a few things clear” about the allegations brought against him, saying: “I’ve always taken ‘no’ for an answer as far as consent. I’ve never overstepped that line. But I think I want to have a more nuanced and important conversation about power dynamics, pressure and coercion. Because, like I said, I think, for a long time, I was behaving in a way that I actually thought was normal.”

The All Gas No Brakes host admitted that he thought “persistence was a form of flattery” and that if someone was “reluctant” towards his sexual advances, it meant “they’re playing hard to get.”

“I think that, especially, I realised when so many young people – especially young men – rush to defend me when this stuff first started coming out, that this type of sex-pest behavior is normalised, and a lot of people think this stuff is normal when I don’t think that it is,” he said. “And I think that I want to be fully responsible for not having a fluid understanding of consent and what enthusiastic, two-way consent looks like.”

However, Callaghan maintained that “a lot of the things that have been said online about me are not true” and “are missing really important contextual information that I think would change people’s interpretation of a lot of these situations.”

“But I’m not here to invalidate anybody’s lived experience,” he continued. “If you feel pressured, you know, that’s just what it is. I hope that young people, and young men in particular, can use my mistakes to learn and move through life with a better understanding of consent.”

The journalist went on to explain that he will start therapy sessions “pretty much immediately” and cited his relationship with alcohol as a “contributing factor to my poor decision-making”. Callaghan said he plans on joining the 12-step programme for Alcoholics Anonymous, and wants “to take a serious step back from public life” to “figure myself out”.

“I hope that this reaches the ears of anyone who’s felt affected by me. I’d love to reach out to you, or you can reach out to me – even just for me to say I’m sorry. I really apologise and I appreciate you all,” he said, before extending his apology to his friends, family, and collaborators who have worked with him in the past.

“That being said, if you never want to watch Channel5 again, I understand,” he concluded. “I hope you remember the missions of radical empathy and media literacy that we have tried to put into the world through our coverage.”

Who is Andrew Callaghan?

Andrew Callaghan is an independent journalist who rose to prominence with his YouTube series All Gas No Breaks, in which he interviewed people such as Bigfoot hunters and right-wing protesters. He later started a spinoff YouTube series, called Channel5.

On 30 December, 2022, his documentary film titled This Place Rules was released on HBO Max. His debut documentary film featured Callaghan interviewing people involved in the events leading up to the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.

What are the allegations?

Sexual misconduct allegations against Callaghan began to surface just weeks after the release of his debut documentary film.

In early January, a woman named Caroline Elise posted a since-deleted TikTok video in which she described her alleged experience with Callaghan that took place in March 2021. Elise, who goes by @cornbreadasserole on TikTok, said in her video that she allowed Callaghan to stay in her home for the night after he had a falling out with one of his crew members, but made it “very clear about the fact that we were not hooking up,” per Rolling Stone.

Despite telling Callaghan she was not interested in sleeping with him, he “eventually got my consent because he wore me down,” she said in the video. “I said whatever because I was trying to get the whole thing over with…it doesn’t discount that I told him no. [He] still found a way to coerce me into doing things I didn’t want to do.”

Elise said she decided to come forward after seeing Callaghan rise in popularity because “it’s even more hard to have to relive the trauma that I endured every single day by seeing this man as a social justice warrior, as someone who cares about human rights, get a platform,” she said. “You shouldn’t be supporting him.”

Another TikToker named Dana – who goes @moldyfreckle on the app – posted several videos just days later, claiming Callaghan pressured her into having sex with him in 2019. She said Caroline Elise’s video had motivated her to come forward, and added that she wanted “other women who he has affected to feel comfortable talking about it.”

In her video, Dana alleged that she was driving Callaghan home when he started touching her inner thigh, kissed her neck, and attempted to put his hand down her pants without consent. “I told him to stop. I told him to get off of me multiple times,” she said in the clip. “He tried to put my hand down his pants and I was fighting against him during this, telling him to please stop.”

Since then, other women have stepped forward describing their alleged experiences with Callaghan, including one report from the publication The Stranger, based in Seattle, where Callaghan is from.

Andrew Callaghan’s legal representative responds to the sexual misconduct allegations

On Thursday, 12 January, Callaghan’s legal representative issued a statement on his behalf. In the statement, the spokesperson said, “Andrew is devastated that he is being accused of any type of physical or mental coercion against anyone. Conversations about pressure and consent are extremely important and Andrew wants to have these conversations, so he can continue to learn and grow.”

“Andrew vows to be better in this regard, while reminding his audience that while even one concerned partner is too many, there are always multiple sides to a story,” the representative said, according to NBC News. “Andrew is fully committed to working with the appropriate professionals to better understand himself and ways he can grow and improve as a human being, especially with his growing platform and the vulnerabilities it brings.”

Who has spoken out against Andrew Callaghan?

Since the sexual misconduct allegations surfaced, comedian Tim Heidecker – who co-produced Callaghan’s documentary This Place Rules – announced he has severed all ties with the journalist.

During an episode of his Office Hours podcast last week, Heidecker said he has “no plans” to work with Callaghan again.

“It’s been a very painful week for us, a very difficult experience to process,” Heidecker said. “Of course, we’re aware of the allegations. We take them very seriously. It’s been very sad and disappointing, to say the least.

“I just want to clarify a couple things. We have no professional relationship with Andrew at this time and have no plans going forward to have any relationship with him.

“We did produce the movie, and I feel terrible that this film now has these allegations tied to it because some very good people worked very hard on it, ” he added. “But it’s just a movie, and I want to say we believe these women that came forward and, of course, totally condemn the type of behavior that Andrew’s being accused of. I believe it’s up to Andrew to address these allegations and do so openly and honestly. I really hope he does do that as soon as possible.”