In late December, comedian Beth Stelling alleged in an Instagram post that she had been physically and sexually abused by an ex-boyfriend; Stelling did not name her alleged abuser, but shortly after the post went viral, the person she was accusing was identified as comedian Cale Hartmann. On December 30, Hartmann denied Stelling’s accusation of abuse in a Facebook post. On January 1, another comedian, Courtney Pauroso, alleged in a podcast that she had also been raped by the man who assaulted Stelling.
After Stelling posted her story on Instagram, along with pictures of her badly bruised legs and arm, Hartmann’s Twitter and other social media accounts were deactivated. He has since returned to social media, and, last Wednesday, posted a lengthy Facebook response to Stelling’s accusations. He wrote,
Until December 28th, I would have wanted nothing more than for my name and to whatever it was attached to be blindly and rapidly passed around to as many people as possible. Now I have experienced the worst of that realm of possibility. It is unfortunate that today it's becoming more and more the norm for an accusation to be taken as fact and the sentence carried out immediately by the anonymous public.
He went on to claim that Stelling’s accusations are false:
I was incredibly hurt to see my ex-girlfriend had made public accusations across all of her social media platforms that tell a story so far beyond the truth. The severity of her accusations are false and extremely harmful. I'm not sure she realizes the irreparable harm of her actions.
Everyone condemning me on social media must have some evidence beyond her word - they must know me in a way that I don't know myself - they must know her personally and be 100% certain to "out" my name despite a single word from me. They have no such proof, no such certainty, no such reason for using my name. My career and life do not deserve to be taken away without some basic level of due process just because of an allegation on the Internet. She is being praised and lauded to no end while people take joy in destroying me as the new villain of the week. How would that make you feel?
In the Instagram post in which she claimed to have been abused, Stelling wrote, “An ex-girlfriend of this ex-boyfriend came to me and shared that she experienced the same fate.” In an emotional episode of We Should Have A Podcast recorded Friday, comedian Courtney Pauroso came forward as that ex, saying, “What happened to Beth… it happened to me, too.”
Pauroso went on to allege that Hartmann, whom she had dated for three years, raped her when she tried to break up with him in September of 2014. She explained, “It took me a long time to use the word ‘rape.’ It took a long time for me to acknowledge that what had happened.” Pauroso described Hartmann's denial of Stelling's allegations as "upsetting," and said, “I know Beth is telling the truth.”