37-year-old actress Eliza Dushku on the weekend posted on Facebook allegations against her stunt coordinator on “True Lies,” (1994) saying Joel Kramer molested her when she was just 12 and he was 36.
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The full story:
When I was 12 years old, while filming “True Lies”, I was sexually molested by Joel Kramer, one of Hollywood’s leading stunt coordinators.
Ever since, I have struggled with how and when to disclose this, if ever. At the time, I shared what happened to me with my parents, two adult friends and one of my older brothers. No one seemed ready to confront this taboo subject then, nor was I.
I am grateful to the women and men who have gone before me in recent months. The ever-growing list of sexual abuse and harassment victims who have spoken out with their truths have finally given me the ability to speak out. It has been indescribably exhausting, bottling this up inside me for all of these years.
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.
And I remember how soon-after, when my tough adult female friend (in whom I had confided my terrible secret on the condition of a trade that she let me drive her car around the Hollywood Hills) came out to the set to visit and face him, later that very same day, by no small coincidence, I was injured from a stunt-gone-wrong on the Harrier jet. With broken ribs, I spent the evening 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.
Why speak out now? I was 12, he was 36. It is incomprehensible. Why didn’t an adult on the set find his predatory advances strange — that over-the-top special attention he gave me. Fairly early on he nicknamed me “Jailbait” and brazenly called me by this name in a sick flirty way in front of others (at the time, I remember asking one of my older brothers what it meant). Sure, I’ve come to understand the terrible power dynamics that play into whistle-blowing by “subordinates” against persons in power, how difficult it can be for someone to speak up. But I was a child. Over the years I’ve really struggled as I’ve wondered how my life might have been different if someone, any one grown-up who witnessed his sick ways, had spoken up before he lured me to that hotel room.
Years ago, I had heard second hand that Joel Kramer was “found out” and forced to leave the business. I learned recently that in fact he still works at the top of the industry. And a few weeks ago, I found an internet photo of Joel Kramer hugging a young girl. That image has haunted me near nonstop since. I can no longer hide what happened.
Hollywood has been very good to me in many ways. Nevertheless, Hollywood also failed to protect me, a child actress. I like to think of myself as a tough Boston chick, in many ways I suppose not unlike Faith, Missy, or Echo. Through the years, brave fans have regularly shared with me how some of my characters have given them the conviction to 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.
With every person that speaks out, every banner that drops down onto my iphone screen disclosing similar stories/truths, my resolve strengthens. Sharing these words, finally calling my abuser out publicly by name, brings the start of a new calm.
Joel Kramer denied the allegations in a statement to Fox News saying the story is not true. Here is the full statment:
“These allegations are a well-crafted fabrication by Ms. Dushku. I do not understand what motivated Ms. Dushku to make this statement and I hope that she can find it in her conscious to correct this injustice and return my good name to me. I understand the culture in Hollywood has been historically unfair to women and I applaud and support women who are standing up and pointing out these injustices,” he said. “It is unfortunate, however that this new culture allows a person to destroy the life and livelihood of a person with false accusations.”
Despite his assertion of innocence, Deadline reports that his agency, WPA, has dropped him as a client. “Such behavior is unacceptable and entirely at odds with the standards of conduct we demand of ourselves, and expect from our clients,” WPA’s president and general counsel Richard Caleel said.
In her post, the actress known for roles on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dollhouse” wrote that Kramer groomed her and her parents promising to take her for a swim at the stunt crew’s hotel pool one night, followed by her first sushi dinner thereafter. That, she said, was how two people of very different ages ended up in the same hotel room together.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
Dushku said she confided in a “tough adult female friend.” Deadline, in a separate report, revealed that the “friend” was her representative at the time, JoAnne Colonna, who confronted Kramer about what happened.
Dushku also wrote that she suffered an injury to her ribs in a stunt gone wrong — later on the same day that her friend talked to Kramer. The actress suggested in her post that it was no accident.
“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,” she wrote. “On a daily basis he rigged wires and harnesses on my 12 year old body. My life was literally in his hands.”
Dushku said she recently saw a photo of Kramer with his arm around a young girl, which prompted her to come forward with her story. Kramer recently worked on projects including “Blade Runner 2049,” “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Westworld.”
While speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour, “True Lies” director, James Cameron, said that he had no clue any of this was going on. Cameron who is working on a TV adaptation of “True Lies,” added that there would have been “no mercy” for Kramer if he did it.
Eliza Dushku’s Former Agent & A Friend Confirm Her Sexual Assault Story On ‘True Lies’ Set: “Nobody Really Did Anything” https://t.co/8WOmiC9bF8 pic.twitter.com/pSrIyK2mFM
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) January 14, 2018
Jamie Lee Curtis, Dushku’s mother in “True Lies” has written in an article called “Truth And Lies” / The Huffington Post:
“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” she wrote.