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Tao LinCoco Young

Tao Lin accused of statutory rape and emotional abuse

The alt lit novelist strongly denies the claims, saying he was in a ‘relationship that had problems’

Novelist Tao Lin has been accused of statutory rape, emotional abuse and plagiarism by his ex-partner ER Kennedy (formerly known as Ellen), Jezebel reports. Lin has refuted the allegations, saying that the pair were in a "relationship that had problems". Kennedy's claims come less than a week after another prominent alt lit writer, Stephen Tully Dierks, quit writing after being accused of sexual assault by two young women. 

Kennedy, who identifies as trans man, says that he dated Tao Lin back when he was 16 and known as Ellen. Lin was 22. The pair co-founded the indie publisher ass hi books and wrote the online book Hikikomori together.

In a series of now-deleted tweets published on Friday, Kennedy alleged that Lin committed statutory rape when they were dating. He also claimed that Lin plagiarised his emails by publishing them in his 2010 book Richard Yates

Kennedy also alleged that Lin engaged in emotionally abusive behaviour that made him feel "suicidal and worthless", including driving him to stores so he could shoplift things Lin could eBay to pay for rent. The writer also accused Kennedy of "binge eating" after he ate 300 calories of pasta, and threatened to dump him if he weighed more than 125 pounds. 

Lin has rejected the allegations, saying he "did not rape and steal" from Kennedy. He told Dazed that Kennedy knew his emails would be used in Richard Yates, and explained to BuzzFeed that the statutory rape claim is untrue, as Kennedy was of legal age under Pennsylvania’s age of consent law at the time.  

Kennedy said in a now-deleted tweet that Lin is theatening to sue for character defamation, although Lin maintains this is not true. Kennedy now says that the matter will be settled in court: 

Lin emailed Dazed the following statement, which he initially posted on his private Facebook page. It's in full below: 

"Yes, I had consensual sex with Ellen in her parents' house in Pennsylvania in her parents' bed, as she tweeted (ed: the tweet is now deleted), when I was 22 and she was 16. No, that is not statutory rape, let alone rape. So, no, I did not rape and steal from her. We were in a relationship that had problems."

"About using her emails for my book: I talked to her about it during and after the writing of Richard Yates (book she is referencing) from 2006-2008 and she read it something like a year before it was released in 2010. I made sure (and my publisher made sure I made sure) she was okay with what I was writing about, and I said I wouldn't write anything she didn't want me to write about. (She has also written about our experiences, and I have often felt very close to her in our views on life/fiction.)"

"We continued communicating regularly from the time I met her in 2006 to 2014, though our romantic relationship (which I think I valued more than anything else at the time) ended sometime in 2007. I published her poetry book, we co-wrote things together, talked as friends in emails."

"A few months ago Muumuu House funded her trip to a poetry reading in Boston, and before that we emailed about the eBook edition of her book, for examples of things we email about. Sometimes she has 'lashed out' against me, then afterwards apologized saying she didn't remember lashing out. I understand this behavior from someone who has experienced my shitty (but not, in terms of Ellen, illegal – shoplifting batteries is illegal, I know) behavior as a shitty person in a relationship. I try to be open about my negatives as a person, and examined these negatives for example in Richard Yates and in my other writing."

"Because Ellen (now, but not in the past) seems very affected by the fact that I wrote about our experience (and to be in need financially, and to suspect I am profiting off her, based on her tweets), I offered her (in an email today) all the royalties to RY, or to never mention it and ask Melville House to stop printing/selling it if that's possible at all, saying I care more about her, a person, than a book."

"I hoped not to involve everyone reading this in this, and to not reveal all this stuff to strangers in this context (partly because I think it's unproductive for everyone involved and the world generally), but since you asked, and reporters have emailed me about it, and it seems like it's going to be written about and create a massive shitstorm forever linking me with the term 'rapist' probably in the minds of most people who skim any articles about this or have seen or heard about that Tumblr post, I felt it was appropriate to type this paragraph here."

Lin says that Kennedy has yet to respond to his offer of royalties or ceasing publication of Richard Yates. Melville House has not responded to emails regarding the accusations of plagiarism.