Dushku, now 37, shared her heartbreaking story over the weekend, naming Joel Kramer as her alleged abuser. The 1994 movie's director, James Cameron; and Dushku's co-stars -- Jamie Lee Curtis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Tom Arnold -- responded to Dushku's claims with support. They also shared anger at an industry that too often fails to protect children.
Here's Dushku's story:
Joel Kramer denied the claims, but others have come forward to validate the story, saying they are the ones Dushku told at the time -- including her legal guardian on the set, Sue Booth-Forbes. She shared her story of reporting the alleged abuse (via Deadline):
"I was her legal guardian and took seriously my need to have her in my sight at all times, which was often difficult to do. I was on the True Lies set for 3 weeks and reported Joel Kramer's inappropriate sexual behavior towards 12-year-old Eliza to a person in authority. I was met with blank stares and had the sense that I wasn't telling that person anything they didn't already know.
I was at the hospital and can verify that she was hurt and in pain with breaks/cracks to her ribs. Surely they have medical records somewhere to prove that.
I tried to keep Joel away from her as did others working on the set, but because of all the stunts she had to do, he was constantly involved with her and her body. Those who knew didn't know what to do and were far enough down the pecking order to be afraid of losing their jobs if they pressed the issue because all the power lay in the hands of those who called the shots and would stop at nothing to protect each other..."
Dushku's mother Judith responded to a commenter's attack on the young stars' parents for not protecting her:
"I accept your condemnation as Eliza's mother," Judith wrote. "No, it was not her career that I feared for, as that meant nothing to me. I was afraid of Joel Kramer, too. And it was years later that I finally understood fully what really happened. At the time, Eliza was too scared to tell the whole story and in a way I think she protected me from knowing because she knew how frightened I was of the powerful men on the set. Her lose was the worst, but abuse can throw a wide net. I only began to understand this many years later."
Jamie Lee Curtis played Dushku's mother in the movie, and she reacted to Dushku's post in a HuffPost op-ed. Curtis revealed that Dushku had "shared that story with me privately a few years ago" (presumably when Dushku was an adult), and Curtis "was shocked and saddened then and still am today." Here's more of her post:
"Eliza's story has now awakened us from our denial slumber to a new, horrific reality. The abuse of children.
I have pretended to be the mother of young actors for a long time. Even at 19, when I was in the original "Halloween," I was the babysitter to then-child actor, Kyle Richards. After I hit the mom-in-movies age, I have pretended to be the mom of the future Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and have worked with numerous other young actors, including Macauley Culkin, Anna Chlumsky, and Lindsay Lohan. [...]
I hope today that what can come from all of these exposures are new guidelines and safe spaces for people ― regardless of age, gender, race or job ― to share their concerns and truths and that all abusers will be held accountable.
All of us must take some responsibility that the loose and relaxed camaraderie that we share with our young performers has carried with it a misguided assumption that they are adults in an adult world, capable of making adult choices.
Many of us involved in "True Lies" were parents. Jim, Arnold and myself. Parents of daughters. What allegedly happened to Eliza, away from the safety net of all of us and our purview is a terrible, terrible thing to learn about and have to reconcile."
James Cameron talked to the press Saturday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, just hours after Dushku posted her allegations, so he didn't have much time to process what happened. However, he did share a reaction, and here's what he had to say toward the end of his comments (via THR):
"This is not a reckoning for Hollywood or America; this is reckoning for the human race. This sh*t has been going on since day one. So whenever there's a male in a position of power who has got a piece missing and doesn't understand the consequences of what he's doing, maybe out of this can come some education that can pull some men that would otherwise go down that path back from the brink. A lot of it has to come from a lack of empathy. That they're clearly not feeling what this is going to mean for this person further down the line. The psychological consequences have to be understood. Hopefully we'll be making films about this stuff and we'll put something in place as industry practice to do as much as we can to prevent it.
Directors are historically pretty oblivious to the interpersonal things that are happening on their set because they're focused and are the worst offenders at being focused on 'what I'm doing creatively.' Had I known about it, there would have been no mercy. Now especially, I have daughters. There's really no mercy now."
The next day, "True Lies" costar Tom Arnold tweeted that they all would've done something at the time if they had known:
— Tom Arnold (@TomArnold) January 14, 2018
On Monday, the movie's biggest star, Arnold Schwarzenegger -- who played Dushku's dad in the movie -- echoed Tom Arnold's tweet:
Tom, you bet your ass all of us would have done something. I'm shocked and saddened for Eliza but I am also proud of her - beyond being a great talent and an amazing woman, she is so courageous. https://t.co/EJJbkdior2
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) January 16, 2018
Since Dushku first posted her story on January 13, two more stunt women have come forward with allegations. According to Deadline, stunt coordinator Joel Kramer was dropped as a client by his agency, Worldwide Production Agency.
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