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Melissa McCarthy apologizes for backing anti-sex-trafficking charity

‘Oh boy, are we sorry for it,’ McCarthy said.

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Melissa McCarthy, June 2019
Melissa McCarthy, June 2019
(David Crotty/Getty)
Updated: November 14, 2020 - 2:16pm

Actress Melissa McCarthy publicly apologized this week for having briefly helped direct charitable donations toward an anti-sex-trafficking organization founded by a Christian who has in the past spoken publicly about certain aspects of his faith.

McCarthy is working with HBO on a “20 Days of Kindness” campaign as a promotional tie-in to her new movie "Superintelligence." 

Among 20 charities promoted by the actress was Exodus Cry, a group that “fight[s] for the freedom of all sex trafficking victims” and seeks to “break the cycle of exploitation and help those sold for sex,” according to its website.

A Daily Beast report on Thursday brought McCarthy’s support of that group to light; the Daily Beast identified it as an “anti-abortion group,” though the publication did not provide any evidence to support that contention. Other news organizations highlighted a 2013 tweet from the group’s founder, Benjamin Nolot, who that year referred to abortion as a “modern-day holocaust.”

Exodus Cry, meanwhile, has explicitly stated that it “has never taken any position” on abortion, and that it “partner[s] with, and are inclusive of, organizations that are both for and against abortion.”

Following the Daily Beast report and subsequent criticism on social media, McCarthy responded quickly, posting a video on her Instagram on Friday in which she apologized to viewers for “back[ing] a charity that … stands for everything we do not.” She did not name Exodus Cry in the video nor cite the reasons for why she was dropping the anti-sex trafficking group from the list of charities participating in the promotion.

HBO confirmed to media that Exodus Cry had been booted from the campaign.

“We are so incredibly grateful for you ringing the bell and helping us be better,” McCarthy said to her viewers in the apology video. “We’re sorry for our mistake. Oh, boy are we sorry for it.”