Another high-profile Hollywood fixture has been accused of sexual harassment. Author Anna Graham Hunter alleges that Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed her when she was just 17 years old. (Bustle has reached out to Hoffman for comment on the allegations, but has not yet heard back. The actor did tell THR, "I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.") According to the story Hunter shared in The Hollywood Reporter, the alleged harassment took place in 1985, on the set of the TV film Death of a Salesman.
The then-high school senior was on set for a production assistant internship, a position that she claims brought her into close contact with Hoffman. The actor was 49 at the time and playing the film's star, Willy Loman. He was also married, but, according to Hunter's claim, none of those factors stopped him from allegedly making inappropriate advances toward an intern 32 years his junior. During her five weeks on set, the THR guest columnist claims behavior from Hoffman ranging from alleged unwanted attention to inappropriate comments to full-on groping. "He was openly flirtatious, he grabbed my ass, he talked about sex to me and in front of me," she claims.
If her claims seem remarkably clear after three decades, it may be because Hunter is reportedly using letters she wrote at the time to inform them. She claims that she regularly mailed letters off to her sister in London after making copies for herself and re-reading them recently made her heart ache for her younger self. Her high school self had a job she was excited about, working closely with heroes like Hoffman and John Malkovich, whom she'd grown up seeing on the screen. Hunter claims that the alleged harassment began on her very first day of work.
She claims that once she was instructed to put several chairs into Hoffman's dressing room, she interrupted his stand-in, a woman named Cassandra, in the middle of a foot massage. The actor then allegedly asked Hunter to give him the massage in Cassandra's place, a request that Hunter says she granted. Her reasoning for why is one of the most striking points of the article. "I loved the attention from Dustin Hoffman," she writes. "Until I didn't."
Hunter goes on to claim that she became less comfortable as Hoffman's alleged behavior escalated. After Hoffman allegedly joked aloud on set about Hunter thinking he was a "sexist pig," she claims it did spur a scolding, but to Hoffman. Rather, Hunter was reportedly scolded for the incident:
"But the bad news is Brenda* [my supervisor] said it's too bad it became an issue. Hell, I didn't make it an issue. He did. She said that for the sake of the production we have to sacrifice some of our values and just let it roll over our heads. She said we should try to have a sense of humor and just giggle and slap his hands or something. But that's when I feel the cheapest, like, 'Oh, she really likes it.'"
In this, Hunter's allegations mirror those of some of the other women who have been coming forward in the preceding weeks to allege assault against other Hollywood heavy-hitters. These men were in positions of power over their accusers, and the alleged dynamic between Hoffman and Hunter appears to be no different. She acknowledges that she was delighted to intern on the film's set, and, that even after the actor allegedly harassed her, Hunter wrote that she still proudly carried a keychain that she'd received from him as a gift.
But with the benefit of hindsight, she alleges that he was a "predator" and a man "who had power over me and abused it" — a story that's unfortunately becoming all too familiar in recent weeks.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.