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Chris Hardwick Denies Allegations of Abuse of Ex-Girlfriend

Chris Hardwick, the founder of Nerdist and host of AMC’s “Talking Dead,” has denied allegations that he abused and blacklisted his ex-girlfriend, cosplayer Chloe Dykstra.

Dykstra published a lengthy essay on Medium on Thursday, alleging that she was subjected to sexual assault and controlling behavior over the course of a three-year relationship. She did not name Hardwick, but offered sufficient details that he was quickly identified.

“These are very serious allegations and not to be taken lightly which is why I’ve taken the day to consider how to respond,” said Hardwick in a statement. “I was heartbroken to read Chloe’s post. Our three year relationship was not perfect—we were ultimately not a good match and argued—even shouted at each other—but I loved her, and did my best to uplift and support her as a partner and companion in any way and at no time did I sexually assault her.”

Hardwick said in his statement that he ended the relationship after learning that Dysktra had cheated on him. “For several weeks after we broke up, she asked to get back together with me and even told me she wanted to have kids with me, ‘build a life’ with me and told me that I was ‘the one,’ but I did not want to be with someone who was unfaithful,” he said.

“I’m devastated to read that she is now accusing me of conduct that did not occur. l was blindsided by her post and always wanted the best for her.  As a husband, a son, and future father, I do not condone any kind of mistreatment of women.”

AMC, which airs “Talking with Chris Hardwick,” said in a statement Saturday that they have had “a positive working relationship” with the host for years but that they take the allegations “very seriously.” “While we assess the situation, ‘Talking with Chris Hardwick’ will not air on AMC, and Chris has decided to step aside from moderating planned AMC and BBC America panels at Comic-Con International in San Diego next month,” said AMC in the statement.

NBC, for whom Hardwick hosts “The Wall,” also released a statement Saturday using very similar language as AMC, characterizing its relationship with Hardwick as “positive” and writing that they take allegations of misconduct “very seriously.” “Production on ‘The Wall’ does not begin until September, and in the meantime we are continuing to assess the situation and will take appropriate action based on the outcome,” NBC said in the statement.

Hardwick launched the Nerdist podcast in 2010 and built it into the digital network Nerdist Industries, which was sold to Legendary Entertainment in 2012. He recently separated from Legendary to launch a rebranded podcast called “ID10T.”

In a statement on Friday, Legendary distanced itself from Hardwick, and said that references to his role as the founder of Nerdist would be scrubbed.

“Chris Hardwick had no operational involvement with Nerdist for the two years preceding the expiration of his contract in December 2017. He no longer has any affiliation with Legendary Digital Networks,” the company said. “The company has removed all reference to Mr. Hardwick even as the original Founder of Nerdist pending further investigation.”

Nerdist responded, “Like you, we were shocked to read the news this morning. Nerdist prides itself on being an inclusive company made up of a positive, diverse community of people who come together to share and discuss the things we love. That type of behavior is contrary to everything we stand for and believe in, and we absolutely don’t tolerate discrimination, harassment, and other forms of abuse.”

Nerdist also included numbers for sexual assault hotlines in its statement.

Last year, Hardwick formed a new production company, Fish Ladder, signing a first-look deal at AMC Studios. Hardwick is the longtime host of “The Walking Dead” aftershow “Talking Dead,” which last year was expanded to a year-round chat series with a broader pop-ciulture focus. He also hosts NBC primetime gameshow “The Wall,” which he executive produces alongside LeBron James.

In her essay, Dykstra said that her ex-boyfriend was emotionally abusive. She also said that she was coerced into having sex with him whenever he wanted. She said that he laid down rules for her social interactions, isolating her from her friends and other sources of support. During the relationship, she said she became anorexic and had an ectopic pregnancy. Shortly after surgery, she said that her ex asked the doctor, “When do you think I can have sex with her again.”

She said she left him after three years, only to have him blacklist her in the industry.

“Because of my leaving him for someone else, he made calls to several companies I received regular work from to get me fired by threatening to never work with them,” she wrote. “He succeeded. I was blacklisted.”

At her lowest point, she said she contemplated committing suicide by jumping off a 101 freeway overpass.

She wrote that she was writing the essay to obtain closure and to offer a warning about abusive relationships.

“This kind of relationship is so common, and so easy to slip into,” she wrote. “Normalizing behavior happens incredibly quickly, and one can lose track of what is acceptable treatment… And when your self-worth reaches such depths after years of being treated like you’re worthless, you might find you think you deserve that sort of treatment, and no one else will love you.”

Though she did not name Hardwick, she described her ex-boyfriend as growing “from a mildly successful podcaster to a powerhouse CEO of his own company” over the course of their relationship. Dykstra, 29, said she ended the relationship when she was 25, so roughly four years ago. Hardwick announced their breakup on Twitter in 2014. She also said that her ex was almost 20 years older than she is. Hardwick, who is 46, married actress-model Lydia Hearst in 2016.

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