This woman accused me of sexual harassment for refusing to employ her illegally

On January 31, 2022, I received an email from The Wrap saying that a former intern of mine, who claimed to have worked 6 months for me, claims that I had sexually harassed her. I laughed at the message because the Wrap and its editor Sharon Waxman had been inventing fictional sexual harassment stories about me since 2013. The question is: who is this intern?

In early 2017, I  started negotiating to produce a TV show for the Chinese conglomerate Tencent, where I wrote a weekly column. So when a Berkley graduate, Amenah suggested her Chinese friend, Tian Li, to work for me, I agreed to meet her.

Ms. Li came to see me at my home office on March 19th. She told me that she was studying at a college and won’t graduate until the end of June. It was perfect for me because I had just been suspended by the HFPA for three months for informing my employer, the BBC, that my accuser in a 2013 Wrap article by Sharon Waxman, has been caught trying to extort a new HFPA applicant. And I was still negotiating the deal with Tencent. So I didn’t have any work to offer her.

I spent that Spring traveling overseas, visiting family and friends. In the meantime, my deal with Tencent fell apart, so I started negotiating with Al Jazeera, for which I would need someone who speaks Arabic. But when Ms. Li graduated at the end of June and was ready to work, she insisted that she could work around the language. I asked her to fill out a W9 form in order to be able to pay her. She said that she didn’t have a work permit in the US and that others paid her in cash. I refused to employ her without a work permit. Instead, she spent the time training in editing and using cameras while applying for a work Visa. 

I didn’t wait for her to get her papers in order and asked Amenha to find me someone who speaks Arabic

In the meantime, I took Ms. Li to parties and industry events, which she loved, where I introduced her to Chinese colleagues, producers, Journalists and stars, among them was HFPA member Ting Ting Xu, in the hope that one of them would give her a job. By the end of July, she met a Chinese producer at one of those events, and she got a job with him. 

We reconnected in Jan 2018, when I offered her and her husband two Golden Globe free after-party tickets because I knew that she loved parties. She was ecstatic. I did the same the following year, although she was at the time working for HFPA member and Chinese star Lisa Lu. It turned out that Ms. Lu wouldn’t give her tickets.

She complained that the Chinese producer had abused her and that Ms. Lu, had enslaved her. I felt bad for her and suggested that she could work for me if she had learned to use cameras. I took her to two jobs to assist my cameramen. She was so bad, that I refused to employ her.

She kept in touch with me, mainly asking for parties, but I don’t recall taking her to any. I would see her with Ms. Xu at HFPA events. Interestingly, in 2020 she asked for Golden Globes tickets because Ms. Xu wouldn’t give her one. I didn’t have one, but I promised to let her know if one becomes available. 

When a Golden Globe ticket became available, I offered it to her for its face value, namely $1000. She didn’t take it because she wanted two tickets, which I didn’t have. In her last text to me, she said “You’ve always been nice to me; I’ve never said you haven’t.” But it seems to have changed her mind.

Ms. Li contrived a completely different story to the Wrap, claiming that “She had worked 6 month for me and Throughout this time she says she was unpaid for her work and that you were upset about her leaving. “

The Wrap triumphantly printed her claim without doing any due diligence. Later Ms. Li changed her story and admitted to the investigators that she indeed didn’t have a work permit.

Mr. Asi’s statement that Ms. Li did not have immigration paperwork to formally work was corroborated by Ms. Li. Ms. Li told investigators that Mr. Asi stated he could buy Ms. Li gifts or a laptop, but he could not pay her without a green card. Ms. Li told investigators that she felt that was an excuse and this was one of the reasons she quit working with him. “ 

It seems that even when she admits a lie, Ms. Li adds another one. I’ve never offered to buy her anything. The question is: how could she claim on one hand that she had worked 6 months for me and on another say that she wouldn’t work without being paid in cash?

In either case, she has admitted to committing a crime by confirming what she had told me that she worked for cash without a work permit. Nonetheless, The Wrap and HFPA investigators felt sympathy for her and made me the bad guy for refusing to employ her illegally.

She also told the Wrap  “that I offered to sell her a ticket to a Golden Globes after-party for $2000, claiming that you would give her a deal down from $10,000.”

Having been confronted with the evidence, Ms. Li changed her mind,  dropping the $2000 after-party tickets claim. Instead, she told the investigators thatMr. Asi attempted to sell her Golden Globes tickets for a profit.” It seems that Ms. is incapable of telling the truth even when she is confronted with it. 

The HFPA investigators were left with no choice but to make this conclusion:

“Based on the text exchange and witness statements, investigators find by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Asi attempted to sell one Golden Globes ticket for $1,000…  With respect to the possible sale to Ms. Li, some evidence suggests that Mr. Asi would not have received this small profit, but rather the profit would be for another HFPA member. “

But her most dramatic claim to the Wrap was “She first claims that several weeks into working with you that in one instance while working at your apartment, you leaned in and kissed her. She then says she pushed you away and told you “don’t do that again.” While working together you showed her Asian porn on your computer. She says she felt uncomfortable and objected but that you said about Asians that “they always bury it in their heart, but they’re too afraid to go for it.

The HFPA investigators went out of their way and even refused to examine my evidence to prove her claim. But they were left with no choice but to conclude the following: The investigators find that the evidence provided does not prove by a preponderance of evidence that Mr. Asi showed Ms. Li pornography or that he kissed Ms. Li non- consensually.” 

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