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Jeffrey Tambor voluntarily departs ‘Transparent’ amid sexual harassment accusations

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Actor Jeffrey Tambor announces he is exiting Amazon series, “Transparent,” following two sexual harassment allegations. (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

Jeffrey Tambor, the two-time Emmy-winner who played Maura Pfefferman on  Amazon’s “Transparent,” has announced that he will not return to the series amid sexual harassment accusations made against the actor, Deadline reported.

This comes after Tambor, 73, vehemently denied accusations made by two women of the ‘Transparent’  team.

“Playing Maura Pfefferman on ‘Transparent’ has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life,” the actor told Deadline on Sunday.  “What has become clear over the past weeks, however, is that this is no longer the job I signed up for four years ago,” Tambor added.

“I’ve already made clear my deep regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being aggressive, but the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue,” Tambor also said. “Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to ‘Transparent.'”

This announcement comes after Amazon announced that they were investigating the allegations.  Tambor was first accused of sexual harassment by Van Barnes, a transgender actress who was previously his personal assistant, in a private Facebook post on Nov. 8.

Barnes alleged that her former boss, whom she did not identify by name in the Facebook post, had made inappropriate comments, frequently propositioned her, groped her and threatened to sue her if she spoke out.

“I am aware that a former disgruntled assistant of mine has made a private post implying that I had acted in an improper manner toward her,” Tambor said in response to Barnes’ allegations in a statement obtained by Variety. “I adamantly and vehemently reject and deny any and all implication and allegation that I have ever engaged in any improper behavior toward this person or any other person I have ever worked with. I am appalled and distressed by this baseless allegation.”

On Thursday, “Transparent” guest star Trace Lysette spoke out in a Twitter post and alleged that Tambor acted inappropriately with her on the set of the Amazon series.

Lysette alleged that Tambor made an “over the top” sexual comment toward her after seeing the actress in a costume that  was particularly revealing.  She continued to allege in her post that while she had her back up against a wall, Tambor approached her and, “came in close, put his bare feet on mine so I could not move,  leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrusts back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas.”

In a second statement following Lysette’s accusations, Tambor said, “For the past four years, I’ve had the huge privilege — and huge responsibility – of playing Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman, in a show that I know has had an enormous, positive impact on a community that has been too long dismissed and misunderstood. Now I find myself accused of behavior that any civilized person would condemn unreservedly.”

“I know I haven’t always been the easiest person to work with. I can be volatile and ill-tempered, and too often I express my opinions harshly and without tact. But I have never been a predator – ever,” Tambor continued. “I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express.”

Even prior to the first accusation, Tambor’s option to return for Season 5 had not been picked up, sources told Deadline.  The news of Tambor’s departure comes after the show-runner and creative team behind ‘Transparent’ announced they were already planning ways to continue the show without the lead actor.  In a statement released earlier this month, “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway said she would  cooperate with Amazon’s investigation.

“Anything that would diminish the level of respect, safety and inclusion so fundamental to our workplace is completely antithetical to our principles,” she said. “We are cooperating with the investigation into this matter.”

Amazon has not yet made a comment about the state of the show following Tambor’s announcement of his exit.  New showrunner, Jill Gordon, and the writers of the Emmy Award winning show are still making plans for Season 5, which was planned to debut next year.  “There’s momentum on the inside to continue without Jeffery Tambor,” a source told Variety on Friday.