Comedian Chris D'Elia Accused of Sexually Pursuing and 'Grooming' Underage Girls Online
Multiple women have come forward with allegations of online sexual misconduct against Chris D'Elia, which the comedian has denied.
In a Twitter thread on Tuesday night, user Simone Rossi, who uses the handle @girlpowertbh, shared screenshots of an alleged conversation she had with D'Elia in 2014 when she was 16 years old, claiming she was "groomed" by the comedian.
The screenshots appear to show D'Elia, 40, requesting "a pic" from Rossi, now 22, and asking if they could "make out" when she was 16. (D'Elia has said he never knowingly engaged in online conversations with a minor and never exchanged inappropriate pictures.)
"imagine being 16 and being groomed by a stand up comedian twice ur age and the only reason you never met up and never got physically m*lested was because u had just gotten a boyfriend ur own age," she wrote.
"for the longest time i thought it was embarrassing for ME that i was interacting with this older man but he was the one who DM'd me on twitter and was the one who was twice my age and was the one that used the power imbalance between us to his advantage so f*ck chris d'elia," she continued.
In a statement to PEOPLE, he said, "I know I have said and done things that might have offended people during my career, but I have never knowingly pursued any underage women at any point. All of my relationships have been both legal and consensual and I have never met or exchanged any inappropriate photos with the people who have tweeted about me. That being said, I really am truly sorry. I was a dumb guy who ABSOLUTELY let myself get caught up in my lifestyle. That’s MY fault. I own it. I’ve been reflecting on this for some time now and I promise I will continue to do better."
He has not been criminally or civilly charged.
Rossi maintained that D'Elia knew she was in high school at the time, and she shared a screenshot of him asking for her Instagram handle.
"he was aware i was in high school too considering my entire instagram was high school football games and spirit days," she wrote.
Rossi also pointed to what she called the "irony" of D'Elia's role in season 2 of You, in which he played Henderson, a famous comedian who preyed on underage girls. (The character died during the season and will not return for season 3.)
"i still can't believe netflix cast chris d'elia as the pedophile in season to of 'you' like the literal IRONY," she tweeted, adding, "f--- you @chrisdelia and also @netflix i highly doubt casting this creep as a pedophile was a coincidence. at least i got to see him fake die."
Netflix did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Rossi shed more light on her alleged conversations with D'Elia.
“When I was 16 I replied to a picture that Chris had tweeted. I’m pretty sure I said 'cute.' He immediately DM’d me on his verified Twitter account an email address and the words 'Use it,' hence why in some of the emails I posted the subject line is 'Use it???' We emailed briefly, he asked if I was in LA, I said no, he said 'How we supposed to make out then' and he asked for 'pics' to which I replied with a panda photo and a selfie. I used a laughing face emoji at one point and he said “What’s with that emoji?” so then I switched to a kissy face emoji. That was a majority of our conversation from summer 2014," she said.
"Then on New Years Day 2015, that’s when he asked to hang out when he was in Tempe. I don’t know how he remembered I lived in Arizona based off a conversation from 5 months prior, but he did. That’s the second time he talked about 'making out' with me. He asked for my Instagram at that point and began following me," she continued. "My Instagram at the time was full of pictures of me at my high school, pictures of my friends and I, and other images you would expect a high schooler to post. It also had my high school name in my bio, as I was in Student Government and that was often something I flaunted. This gives me reason to believe that he knew I was underage and I also personally believe that’s why he pursued me. He eventually unfollowed me and never talked to me again after I didn’t end up meeting up with him or sending him nudes. The last emails I have are from January 2015. I was still 16."
After Rossi's thread went viral, several other Twitter users shared similar allegations against D'Elia.
"although i've been publicly saying it for years, F--- Chris D'elia," tweeted user @michaelacoletta. "he solicited nudes off of me when i was 17 years old and constantly messaged me whenever he was touring vancouver and asked me to come backstage to his shows."
"i am so unsurprised that multiple girls are coming out with almost the exact story as mine," she added. "it's a known fact he's a f---ing perv and he plays those roles perfectly when acting lmao."
Abby Grills, who uses the handle @AGrillz, shared alleged screenshots of her conversation with D'Elia on Facebook Messenger in 2011. The screenshots appear to show Grills informing D'Elia that he was "a little too old" for her despite his repeated advances.
"Alright y'all, I went back to my 2011 Facebook messenger and found the DMs from Chris D'Elia being creepy and persistent to me when I was 17," she wrote. "What's really weird to me looking back at these is that in my head, he didn't know I was 17 until I told him to stop messaging me. But I now see I told him several times. I had been giving him the benefit of the doubt all these years."
Another user tweeted, "f--- you @chrisdelia. you solicited nudes from minors while u were in vancouver and tried to f--- my friend when we were 16, and when i called u out on twitter you told her you'd ruin her life if i didn't delete it. absolute pedophile scumbag."
The user added that she was not in contact with her friend anymore, but had messaged her on Instagram to see if she'd be willing to come forward.
The account @SheRatesDogs, which documents bad behavior by men, has also been reposting accounts by women with similar allegations against D'Elia.
In her statement to PEOPLE, Rossi explained why she decided to come forward, saying, "It took me a long time to realize what happened to me wasn’t just a funny joke to tell at parties. I was being preyed on, and when you’re that young, and especially when you’re talking to someone so famous, you think it’s cool and exciting. It took years until it finally clicked and I realized 'that seemed off.'"
She added that she has a younger sister who is 17 and would be "horrified if a man twice her age was trying to talk to her."
"Looking back on the situation as a whole, I wish I could have told myself that it was more creepy than exciting. I wish I could have said to myself, 'Why do you think this much older man is talking to a high schooler in Arizona?' It’s frustrating for myself that it took me so long to realize it wasn’t normal or acceptable," she said. "As for what I would say to Chris, what can you say to someone who preys on young girls? To someone who tried to groom you, but also has possibly groomed and based on the stories others have shared with me, possibly assaulted other girls? I don’t want to say 'Time’s Up' out of fear of sounding cliche — isn’t it odd how we as a society have driven a slogan that was supposed to help survivors into the ground — but it’s true. Time is up. I won’t let this happen to other young girls. I want him to know that I have a voice and I’m sure using it."
She said the response to her tweets has mainly been positive, adding, "What’s been most important to me as far as response is all the people who have come forward with their own stories, some directly about was Chris has done to them - but also some just about what other people have done to them. Providing a safe (as safe as the internet can be) space for people to discuss these things is most important to me. I want everyone to know that they are heard. We are listening."
D'Elia's latest comedy special, Chris D'Elia: No Pain, debuted on Netflix in April.
The comedian has made appearances in a number of TV shows over the years and starred alongside Whitney Cummings in the NBC sitcom Whitney, which ran from 2011 to 2013.