Wrestling icon Ric Flair has broken his silence to address allegations of sexual harassment made in a recent documentary series.
On September 16, an episode of the Vice series Dark Side Of The Ring aired exploring the infamous May 2002 WWE plane journey from London, England back to the U.S. which was later dubbed “The Flight From Hell.”
Flair was one of several wrestlers accused of inappropriate behavior on the seven-hour journey and was later named in a lawsuit brought forward by flight attendants Taralyn Cappellano and Heidi Doyle in 2004.
Cappellano and Doyle sued WWE and a Phoenix charter air company for negligence, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.
Flair has always denied any allegations of sexual harassment and WWE later settled the matter out of court.
The incident was revisited in last week’s documentary with Doyle accusing Flair of exposing himself to her, putting her hand on his genitals and pushing her up against the back door of the plane.
“I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get away from him,” she said on the episode. “He was spinning around his penis and he wanted me to touch it… He took my hand and put it on him.”
The documentary claimed that Flair stripped down to a wrestling robe and walked down the aisle of the plane spinning his penis around like a helicopter.
According to PWInsider, in the wake of the renewed claims a commercial campaign for Car Shield featuring Flair has been “paused” by advertising agency Intermedia while an investigation takes place.
WrestlingInc is also reporting that Flair has been removed from a video intro that airs on WWE TV and all of his merchandise has been removed from the WWE shop.
Now Flair has taken to social media to address the accusations.
“Every person that I’ve worked with, from my lawyer to my publicist to my friends have said not to post a response,” he wrote on Twitter.
“But I’ve never run from past behaviors before and I’m not going to start now.”
Eager to “clarify a few things,” Flair explained in a lengthy statement that four years ago he gave ESPN unprecedented access to his personal life for a 30 for 30 documentary special titled Nature Boy.
He noted that the resulting warts-and-all film “covered taxes, financial issues, adultery, divorces, the passing of my child and drinking/partying AT LENGTH.”
Flair then highlighted recent comments made by Nature Boy director Rory Karpf during an interview with The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast addressing the Dark Side of the Ring claims.
In the interview Karpf said that while his documentary detailed many of the “negative” aspects of Flair’s life he had “never heard that he [Flair] had forced someone to touch his genitals,” adding that “no one ever brought up that he would force himself on somebody.”
Flair went on to explain that he allowed the 30 for 30 documentary access to his personal life because “whether it’s good or bad, even the really bad, the truth has to matter. Even in wrestling.”
“My issues have been well documented over my 40+ year career,” he continued.
“The impact of drinking too much (which nearly killed me 5 years ago) has been told time and time and time again. The reason Rory (or anyone else for that matter) never heard stories of me forcing myself on ANYONE is simple: it never happened.”
In a follow-up statement issued to Wrestling Inc, Flair confirmed that the Dark Side Of The Ring documentary’s description of him spinning his penis like a helicopter “is accurate.”
“I wish I could blame it on youth, but it was a case of drinking too much and being inappropriate and I apologize for that (and have countless times over the years),” he wrote.
Flair told the news outlet he had “made some bad decisions” during certain periods of his life but was “trying to make right.”
“I condemn sexual assault in any way, shape or form,” he added.
“I could (and have) written books (as have others) that have covered my transgressions. I’ve made some terrible decisions, but I’ve never forced myself on anyone in any way. Period.”
Newsweek has contacted Flair and the WWE for comment.
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