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Manchester By The Sea director defends Casey Affleck after 'flat-out slander'

The director of Manchester By The Sea has written to a student newspaper to defend Oscar-winning actor Casey Affleck over allegations of sexual harassment.

Kenneth Lonergan responded to an opinion piece in the Wesleyan Argus in Connecticut, which criticised his endorsement of Affleck after the film-maker won best screenplay at the Academy Awards.

It comes after Affleck was sued by two women who accused him of sexual harassment while making the 2010 film I'm Still Here.

The actor, who denied the allegations, settled the lawsuit out of court.

In a letter published by the student newspaper, Lonergan, a former Wesleyan University student, described the article by Connor Aberle as a "tangle of illogic, misinformation and flat-out slander".

He added that "only the author's presumed youth can possibly excuse his deeply offensive display of ignorance, and warped PC- fuelled sense of indignation".

"His random use of the terms sexual misconduct, sexual harassment , sexual abuse and sexual violence, as if they were legally or physically interchangeable, only indicates the reckless sloppiness of his thinking," Lonergan wrote.

The director said Aberle had written the original article "as if Casey Affleck were actually guilty of a crime".

"Casey denounced the allegations as being totally fabricated," he added.

"Like most civil suits, this one was settled out of court by mutual consent on undisclosed terms. In other words nothing was proved or disproved.

"So how does Mr Aberle dare to write as if he knows who was telling the truth and who was not?"

Lonergan went on: "Somebody as interested in actual as opposed to merely vocalised social justice as Mr Aberle presumably is, should unwind his tangled, immoral chain of reasoning and start over at the fundamental precept that an allegation is not an indictment."

Affleck. 41, won the best actor Oscar for his performance as a troubled caretaker in Manchester By The Sea.

He has denied the sexual harassment claims, telling the Boston Globe after his Oscar win: "I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else."

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