At some point soon, it may be easier to list the people in Hollywood who haven’t been the victims or perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment than those who have. The latest to speak up as part of the #MeToo movement is actress Eliza Dushku, probably best known for the tough and feisty characters she played on television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Dollhouse.
According to a Facebook post by Dushku earlier today, the alleged abuse happened during the filming of the movie True Lies, in which she played the daughter of the characters portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis.
She was only 12 at the time, and her role required complex stunt work involving dangerous riggings, suspension from high buildings, etc. The film’s stunt coordinator Joel Kramer, who was 36 then, worked closely with her and the other actors.
In her post, Dushku describes how Kramer nicknamed her “Jailbait” and spent “months” on set grooming her before luring her to a hotel room where he assaulted her:
I remember, so clearly 25 years later, how Joel Kramer made me feel special, how he methodically built my and my parents’ trust, for months grooming me; exactly how he lured me to his Miami hotel room with a promise to my parent that he would take me for a swim at the stunt crew’s hotel pool and for my first sushi meal thereafter. I remember vividly how he methodically drew the shades and turned down the lights; how he cranked up the air-conditioning to what felt like freezing levels, where exactly he placed me on one of the two hotel room beds, what movie he put on the television (Coneheads); how he disappeared in the bathroom and emerged, naked, bearing nothing but a small hand towel held flimsy at his mid-section. I remember what I was wearing (my favorite white denim shorts, thankfully, secured enough for me to keep on). I remember how he laid me down on the bed, wrapped me with his gigantic writhing body, and rubbed all over me. He spoke these words: “You’re not going to sleep on me now sweetie, stop pretending you’re sleeping,” as he rubbed harder and faster against my catatonic body. When he was ‘finished’, he suggested, “I think we should be careful…,” [about telling anyone] he meant. I was 12, he was 36.
I remember how afterwards, the taxi driver stared at me in the rear view mirror when Joel Kramer put me on his lap in the backseat and clutched me and grew aroused again; and how my eyes never left the driver’s eyes during that long ride over a Miami bridge, back to my hotel and parent. I remember how Joel Kramer grew cold with me in the ensuing weeks, how everything felt different on the set.
Dushku writes further that when an adult female friend, whom she had told about the abuse, came to the set and confronted Kramer, she was injured that same day “from a stunt-gone-wrong,” breaking her ribs and requiring a night in the hospital.
To be clear, over the course of those months rehearsing and filming True Lies, it was Joel Kramer who was responsible for my safety on a film that at the time broke new ground for action films. On a daily basis he rigged wires and harnesses on my 12 year old body. My life was literally in his hands: he hung me in the open air, from a tower crane, atop an office tower, 25+ stories high. Whereas he was supposed to be my protector, he was my abuser.
Dushku credited the “ever-growing list of sexual abuse and harassment victims who have spoken out with their truths” over the past few months as giving her the strength to speak out, saying that it had been “indescribably exhausting, bottling this up inside me for all of these years.”
“Hollywood has been very good to me in many ways. Nevertheless, Hollywood also failed to protect me, a child actress,” continued Dushku, thanking her fans for sharing their own stories over the years about how her characters had helped them stand up to their abusers.
“Now it is you who give me strength and conviction. I hope that speaking out will help other victims and protect against future abuse.”
According to Vanity Fair, Kramer has denied Dushku’s allegations, calling them “atrocious lies,” although he did admit that he and some of the crew had taken her swimming and for a sushi dinner. He specifically denied calling her “Jailbait,” luring her to his hotel room, or molesting her, and said he did not remember her being injured on set, but she could have bruised herself.
Kramer has continued to deny the story to multiple entertainment media outlets all day, telling the NY Daily News he was “flabbergasted” at the accusations, suggested that she had built up something in her head about him, and claimed that he had been warned by the set nurse that Dushku had a crush on him. Kramer gave a lengthy interview to TheWrap, scoffing at how detailed Dushku’s account was, saying, “That’s a pretty good memory. She could ruin my career.”
So far, the two stars of True Lies, Schwarzenegger and Curtis, have not commented, on either of their public Facebook or Twitter pages, although Curtis did post a tweet about an hour ago blaming President Donald Trump for the false “missile alert” alarm in Hawaii this morning (an error that was committed by state authorities, not the White House):
This Hawaii missle scare is on YOU Mr. Trump. The real FEAR that mothers & fathers & children felt is on YOU. It is on YOUR ARROGANCE. HUBRIS. NARCISSISM. RAGE. EGO. IMMATURITY and your UNSTABLE IDIOCY. Shame on your hate filled self. YOU DID THIS!
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) January 13, 2018
Dushku’s Facebook post:
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.