This story was originally published by our sister publication, The Stranger, in Seattle.—eds.
In videos posted online over the weekend, the Seattle-raised documentary filmmaker Andrew Callaghan was accused of assault and sexual coercion by multiple women in incidents that allegedly date back several years. The Stranger spoke to one of those women and two others who have yet to come forward publicly.
Callaghan, who gained a following for his YouTube channels All Gas No Brakes and Channel 5, as well as for the recent HBO documentary, This Places Rules, where he conducted man-on-the-street-style interviews with election-deniers, responded to a request for comment on the specific allegations reported in this story by way of his lawyer, who stated that her response was “on background” and not for publication. Callaghan had initially responded “for sure” via text when asked on January 10 if he would provide comment. However, in a statement from his legal representative provided to Variety on January 12 and then later to The Stranger on January 13, he didn’t specifically deny any of the allegations, though he did make vague references to money being involved.
Here is his statement in full:
“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. While every dynamic is open to interpretation and proper communication is critical from all those involved, repeated requests for money should not be part of these conversations,” the statement reads.
“With that, balanced communication is paramount to any relationship dynamic and 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. 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.”
A representative for his documentary producer, A24, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Stranger. In his weekly Office Hours Podcast on Thursday, comedian Tim Heidecker who produced This Place Rules with his partner Eric Wareheim, said he takes these allegations "very seriously" and they "have no professional relationship with Andrew at this time and have no plans going forward to have any relationship with him.”
“We believe these women that came forward and, of course, totally condemn the type of behavior that Andrew is being accused of,” Heidecker said. “This is something that Andrew has to address.”
The accusations began to surface with Caroline, the woman who posted the first video on TikTok that gained national attention on January 5. In her video, she called Callaghan an “abuser” and alleged that he assaulted her when she let him crash with her.
On January 8, another woman, Dana, posted her own videos to TikTok, in which she shared similar allegations against Callaghan. She said Caroline’s video motivated her to come forward, adding that she wanted “other women who he has affected to feel comfortable talking about it.”
@moldyfreckle Part 4. This will be my last video tonight. #andrewcallaghan #allgasnobrakes #thisplacerules #channel5 ♬ original sound - DJ
Since then, other women have posted similar stories of coercion. The Stranger spoke to two of them, both from the Seattle area. Those women said Callaghan tried to coerce them to perform sexual acts, and they provided screenshots of contemporaneous messages recounting their allegations against the filmmaker.
In a phone interview, Caroline said she met Callaghan in March of 2021 when he traveled to Miami to shoot spring break footage for a project.
“I was under the impression that Andrew had nowhere else to stay that night. I now realize that was naive,” she said. “At the time, I thought my only option was to cave in to what he was repeatedly asking of me and ignoring all of my different versions of ‘no’—‘No, I’m tired,’ ‘Sorry, I have to be up early, is it okay if we just go to sleep? I’m really tired.’ I thought I just had to make the night end. Frozen in fear, I thought that was my only option.”
Caroline said this night brought back trauma from when she’d previously been assaulted.
“The first time I was sexually assaulted, by someone else, I was 14. I continuously said no but he used his strength to pin me down and force himself on me. When I did finally manage to push him off after a few minutes, he went crazy. He started screaming at me and got violent, throwing things around the room and cursing at me while I laid there, frozen. Luckily, someone walked into the house where this was happening. I was sure that if they hadn’t, I would have been his next target to take his anger out on since he didn’t fully get away with what he wanted. When the situation happened with Andrew years later, I was immediately brought back to that moment when I was a child. A lot of skeptics are asking why I didn’t do more to prevent myself from being coerced. It was fear. You might think that you know someone, but you never know how they might react if you don’t give them what they want.”
The day after Callaghan crashed at her place, Caroline told multiple friends about the incident. She recounted the story in a text message a few months afterward, and two of her friends say they recall discussing it with her the day after.
Caroline also texted Callaghan several times. In one of his replies, he said, “The last thing I wanted to do was make you feel any sort of pressure whatsoever.” In those messages, he later acknowledged that their encounter and his “persistence” had “brought up trauma from past situations” for Caroline.
This wasn’t the first time that Callaghan allegedly pressured someone with unwanted sexual advances. Anna, a pseudonym for another woman who spoke to The Stranger, said she went to the same middle school as Callaghan in Seattle. Later, in the summer of 2016, when she was 18 and Callaghan was 19, she said she matched with him on the dating app Tinder. She said the two talked a bit and then planned to get coffee. These plans were eventually changed to going back to a nearby apartment on Capitol Hill.
“From the jump, I was caught off guard by how quickly the tone of the evening shifted. At one point Andrew, I assume purposefully, poured wine on my shirt, and proceeded to take off my shirt, and then lick the wine off of my bare chest. This happened very abruptly and I completely froze up—I felt unsafe and incredibly violated.”
She said she hadn’t intended for their meeting to become sexual and subsequently tried to express that to Callaghan, who she said remained “persistent,” taking her hand and making her touch his penis.
“After providing many physical cues of my discomfort, I eventually made it clear verbally that I was not interested in continuing things. He wasn’t taking a simple no for an answer, and consequently it turned into me trying to make up an array of excuses as to why I didn’t want to have sex. He kept insisting that I needed to ‘get him off’ because I was giving him ‘blue balls’ by not having sex with him. He repeated that phrase many times,” Anna said. “It was a long back-and-forth of him trying to guilt me into sexual acts.”
Anna said that she eventually gave Callaghan a ride to a friend’s house because she “just wanted the night to be over.”
“I left the experience feeling violated, confused, and incredibly disrespected. For years I have tried to write this off as an incident in which I gave Andrew the benefit of the doubt—that he was some dumb 19-year-old that didn’t have any grasp at the concept of consent yet, and that hopefully he had grown up and learned better. But after seeing the following he has amassed and learning about the other accounts of the women he’s harassed and assaulted, it feels essential to come out about this experience and hold Andrew accountable for his patterned actions.”
In an interview, one of Anna’s friends said she told him about the incident at the time. Anna also showed The Stranger screenshots of messages she sent to multiple people between 2019 and 2020, outlining these same allegations.
Jane, a pseudonym for another woman who spoke to The Stranger, said she first met Callaghan in Seattle at the Madison Park Dock in the summer of 2017 while she was hanging out with mutual friends.
“At first, he’s a very charismatic person and easy to get along with,” Jane said. “Basically right off the bat, I let him know I wasn’t interested.”
After this first meeting, Jane exchanged messages with a mutual friend who said Callaghan was known for being “frisky,” and Jane said the meeting left her “feeling sus.”
However, the following year, she ran into him again when they were both in a Lower East Side bar in New York, she said.
“I had already been out with some of my friends throughout the day, so we were really drunk,” Jane said. “Everybody was hanging out. At first, everything seemed normal. At some point, we went to an upstairs area there. There were some other people there at first, but they left. Then he just started making moves on me. Kissing me, groping me, moving my hands to touch him, forcing my head down.”
She said she wasn’t sure how to respond, but she tried to get away from Callaghan only for him to follow her.
“I stood up and just walked out of there and went straight to the train. I was sitting there waiting for the train and Andrew showed up. He had followed me there. While I remember him saying throughout the night that he was staying somewhere nearby, he also was saying it wasn’t a good situation and asking if he could stay where I was staying. He was pleading with me to go with him. I yelled at him and told him to go away, I was like, ‘Leave me alone.’ He did leave and I feel like part of the reason he did was because there were other people on the platform that heard me screaming at him.”
In messages she sent to a friend shortly thereafter, which she shared with The Stranger, she described recalling the encounter as a "personal hell of my own flashbacks" and that she was "traumatized."
When Jane returned to Seattle a little over a week later, she said she ran into Callaghan again.
“He just came up to me and sat right next to me and was being really touchy. I just felt frozen in that moment,” she said.
Jane sent Callaghan a message the next day, where she said “our interaction got a bit uncomfortable yesterday and I'm only interested in being platonic friends with you.”
Callaghan responded by saying “ya I didn't think yesterday was uncomfortable" and that he was also “drunk as f in New York” before sending a heart message along with a request to see her again. Jane said his response made her uncomfortable and she blocked him after she felt that he dismissed her concerns.
“I remember hoping that he would take accountability for making me feel uncomfortable and making moves while I was too drunk to consent and it was not an easy message to send,” she said. “I felt that his response brushed it off.”
We’ll update this story if Callaghan or his attorney respond on the record to our requests for a comment.
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If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can reach the Call to Safety 24-hour crisis line at 888-235-5333 to be connected to advocacy and therapy services. More resource can be found on this page.