SPOKANE — Three women have gone public with their accusations of sexual harassment by popular author Sherman Alexie.
National Public Radio published a report Monday detailing the accounts after Alexie last week acknowledged in a written statement to the Seattle Times that he “has harmed” others. The women said Alexie used his fame and influence in the literary world to lure women into “uncomfortable sexual situations.”
Alexie, who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, is among the most popular and accomplished Native American authors in the country. His book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian.” won the National Book Award, and Alexie wrote the screenplay for the film “Smoke Signals.”
He had lived in Spokane. Today he is married and lives in Seattle.
NPR’s report also included seven other women who wanted to remain anonymous. The accounts of the women led NPR to state “a clear pattern emerged: The women reported behavior ranging from inappropriate comments both in private and in public, to flirting that veered suddenly into sexual territory, unwanted sexual advances and consensual sexual relations that ended abruptly.”
Among the women quoted by NPR was Jeanine Walker.
She said she befriended Alexie and had him visit one of the classrooms she was managing in Seattle with the Writers in the Schools program.
After an afternoon of playing basketball at a court in the office building where Alexie works, according to NPR, she used a private restroom in his office to change. The report states that Alexie entered the restroom and asked to kiss her. She declined. He is described by her as laughing off the refusal and saying: “It’s just, we’re playing basketball, you remind me of the girlfriends I had in high school.” Alexie later apologized, she said.
NPR also quoted Erika Wurth, a 22-year-old Native American who wanted to write a book.
She accused Alexie of pressing her to have sex with him in a Colorado hotel room following book readings. Instead, she told him she was a virgin and was able to gather her things and left his room. The NPR report said Wurth had a second sexual encounter with Alexie several years later.
The third woman speaking on the record with NPR was author Elissa Washuta. She accused Alexie of making an aggressive sexual suggestion to her during an outing with a group of people in the literary community.
She said the two later became colleagues at the Institute of American Indian Arts. During a work trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, she said, Alexie propositioned her for sex in his hotel room. She refused.
Alexie has declined requests for interviews regarding the sexual harassment allegations.