In an interview with the Daily Beast published on September 9, the 31-year-old confessed he was often "molested” by overzealous fans while starring on the hit show from 2007-12.
"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," he told the publication, who described Penn as being "thoughtful and cautious" while discussing the topic. "I've literally been molested – just in the literal sense of the word – by many people in the moment. Because that’s what they do."
After his admission made headlines around the world, Penn, who currently stars as stalker Joe Goldberg in the drama thriller YOU, clarified his comments to PEOPLE saying, "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. These things very much happen, you know."