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Penn Badgley Clarifies Report That He Was ‘Molested’ Following Gossip Girl Fame

Penn Badgley is clarifying comments he made during an interview in which he said he was “molested” after becoming famous on Gossip Girl.

“The point of my comment was not to confess a personal trauma. I was speaking about the way emotional and physical boundaries are violated for someone in the public eye, who is seen as an object of desire,” Badgley, 31, said in a statement to PEOPLE on Monday.

“Depending on so many factors, it can range from conscious abuse to something very unconscious — and that is the point I was making, cautiously, in the context of a conversation about fanaticism and cultural norms which support manipulative or abusive behavior. These are the same norms which support predatory men, but not exclusively predatory men,” he continued. “They affect, and infect, us all.”

Speaking with The Daily Beast in a profile published Sunday, Badgley, who starred as Dan Humphrey on the CW drama from 2007-12, said that he has “literally been molested” by fans.

“I think as an actor you can become an object of desire, which is something women are already accustomed to more or less around the world — I’ve definitely been, I mean I don’t want to sound sensationalist, but I’ve literally been molested — just in the literal sense of the word — by many people in the moment,” Badgley told the website.

“Because that’s what they do,” he added.

The Daily Beast described Badley as being “thoughtful and cautious when discussing this” and said he acknowledged “the privilege that being a man, not to mention a white man, affords him.”

RELATED: Gossip Girl Alum Penn Badgley Is Married to Domino Kirke

Badgley, who is starring as stalker Joe Goldberg in Lifetime’s new drama thriller You, admitted, “these things very much happen, you know.”

“And it’s interesting to even hear you have that reaction, like ‘I’m sorry,’ because I didn’t even think of it that way then,” he said.

“You’re led as a man, particularly, that when it happens you should feel great about it. Particularly when it comes from someone who’s feasibly an object of your desire as well. And I think that’s the interesting thing about this show, is that Joe looks like me, he acts and talks like me to a degree, so I think the audience is supposed to be like, ‘Aw that might be nice if someone was that infatuated with me,’ ” he continued.

On Sunday, Badgley made his debut in You, in which he plays a bookstore manager obsessed with a young woman.

“Using the internet and social media as his tools to gather the most intimate of details and get close to her, a charming and awkward crush quickly becomes obsession as he quietly and strategically removes every obstacle — and person — in his way,” according to Lifetime‘s website.

You airs Sundays (10 p.m. ET) on Lifetime.

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Who Ditched Her Dress When She Got Inside? Who Mistook the Curator for a Waiter? Met Gala Gossip You’ll Love

You never imagine the perfectly-coiffed and legendarily cool Anna Wintour putting a single foot wrong, but the longtime host of the Met Gala (and thus, star of the upcoming documentary about it, The First Monday in May) admits that she got caught on camera a couple times doing just that — and sometimes the foot was in her mouth. “People who make documentaries are really sneaky people,” she told PEOPLE. “They just follow you around until you make a complete fool of yourself.”

Christina Ricci Met Gala photoKevin Mazur/Getty; Ray Tamarra/Getty

But she seems to have a good sense of humor about it — and even admits to getting a little verklempt watching the film. “There is a really moving scene in the documentary which shows Andrew [Bolton, the exhibit’s curator] just before the exhibition opened last year just walking through the empty galleries,” she said. “Yes, to me that was absolutely the most emotional [moment]: When you see his work coming together at the end.”

So is Bolton enjoying his star turn? “Anna’s the star,” Bolton replied modestly. “I think it captures the work that goes into the shows we do, and also the work that goes into the gala. Bolton related that the most amusing encounter he had with a star was his first year at the Met gala when he was introduced to Jennifer Connelly. “She thought I was a waiter and she asked me to go get her a glass of wine,” he said.

So what did he do? “I got it for her,” said Bolton. “And she’s a bad tipper.”

RELATED VIDEO: Jennifer Lawrence as Met Gala Co-Chair

Designer Zac Posen recalled another unseen moment. “When I brought Christina Ricci for the Alexander McQueen exhibition,” he said. “She was wearing quite an elaborate dress. She had corset trained through the weekend to wear it. But we knew that training would only allow her to wear it up until a certain moment. From having been an intern at the Met, I know the guards there. So they let me go into a back room right after the first course was served, and I change her into a very transparent, short un-corseted dress. And they carried her gown out through the back entrance to the car in a body bag.”

Rihanna Met Gala 2015David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

Supermodel Karolina Kurkova has worn a number of dresses that barely fit in the limo, so much so that she knows exactly how to handle it. “The trick is to sit, and then let someone just shove the dress into the car,” she said. Another highlight every year?“And I have to say the ladies room at the Met is always quite a scene. Everybody is always in there touching up. It will be Jennifer Lopez on one side, and Meryl Streep on the other, Nicole Kidman, Rihanna — that is, if your dress will even fit through the door. At the end of the night, I’ve had to be cut out of a dress many times.”

RELATED PHOTOS: The best dresses at the 2015 Met Gala!

Lauren Hutton also described the ladies room as one of the starriest hangouts. “There are some huge dresses,” she agreed. “The Olsens were in there. That’s part of the fun, helping everybody get in and out of their dresses.”

Rihanna Met Gala 2015Getty

“I loved Rihanna’s dress last year,” said Wendi Deng, a co-host of the 2015 gala. “It was designed by my friend Guo Pei, a Chinese designer. And I’m so proud of her. She works so hard and is so talented. And it helped put her on the map. I saw her later and we had dinner together and she was so happy about it.”

Andre Leon Tally, another star of the documentary, agreed that the most dramatic moment onscreen was: “When Rihanna came up the steps looking fabulous in the Guo Pei coat,” he said. The dress took two years to create and it required a small army to move and place the enormous train for photos on the stairs out front. Ultimately, it was “a moment in time,” Talley said.

What’s your favorite Met Gala moment?

–Jeffrey Slonim

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Here’s What Happened After Alfonso Ribeiro Won Dancing With the Stars Last Night, and All the Backstage Gossip!

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Why We Gossip

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By Tom Jacobs

Did you hear what happened at yesterday’s meeting? Can you believe it?

If you find those sort of quietly whispered questions about your co-workers irresistible, you’re hardly alone. But why are we drawn to gossip?

A new study suggests it’s because the rumors, innuendo and hearsay are ultimately all about us — where we rate in the unofficial local hierarchy, and how we might improve our standing.

“Gossip recipients tend to use positive and negative group information to improve, promote and protect the self,” writes a research team led by Elena Martinescu of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. “Individuals need evaluative information about others to evaluate themselves.”

Writing in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the researchers describe two experiments testing the personal value gossip recipients derive. The first featured 178 university undergraduates who had all previously worked on at least one course assignment with a group of four or more students.

Participants “were asked to recall and write a short description of an incident in which a group members shared with them either positive or negative information about another group member’s confidence,” the researchers write. (Eighty-five received a positive report, 93 a negative one.)

They then reported their level of agreement with a series of statements. Some of these measured the self-improvement value of the gossip (“The information received made me think I can learn a lot from X”); others measured its self-promotion value (“The information I received made me feel that I am doing well compared to X”). Still others measured whether the gossip raised personal concerns (“The information I received made me feel that I must protect my image in the group”).

In the second experiment, 122 undergraduates were assigned the role of “sales agent” at a major company. They received gossip from a colleague that a third person either did very well or very badly at a performance evaluation, and were then debriefed about the emotions that information evoked. They also responded to the aforementioned set of statements presented to participants in the first experiment.

In each experiment, participants found both negative and positive gossip to be of personal value, albeit for different reasons. “Positive gossip has self-improvement value,” they write. “Competence-related positive gossip about others contains lessons about how to improve one’s own competence.”

On the flip side, “negative gossip has self-promotion value, because it provides individuals with social comparison information that justifies self-promoting judgments, which results in feelings of pride.”

“Contrary to lay perceptions,” the researchers assert, “most negative gossip is not intended to hurt the target, but to please the gossiper and receiver.”

In addition, the results “showed that negative gossip elicited self-protection concerns,” the researchers write. “Negative gossip makes people concerned that their reputations may be at risk, as they may personally become targets of negative gossip in the future, which generates fear.”

Fear is hardly a pleasant sensation, of course, but it can be a motivating one. As Martinescu and her colleagues put it: “Gossip conveniently provides individuals with indirect social-comparison information about relevant others.”

In other words, if you don’t want to be viewed as a goof-off like Charley, you’d better get your act together.

It’s worth noting that this study did not look at who-is-sleeping-with-who gossip, which presumably has a somewhat different function — although news that an illicit couple has gotten caught could certainly serve as a cautionary tale.

But it does show that beyond providing “emotional catharsis and social control,” confidentially treaded information about the competence, or lack thereof, of a co-worker can be “an essential resource for self-evaluation.”

Pass the word.
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