On Jan. 13, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Bring It On star Eliza Dushku accused stunt coordinator Joel Kramer of sexually molesting her on the set of True Lies. Dushku was 12 at the time of the alleged assualt. Now Jamie Lee Curtis has responded to Dushku's allegations in a heartfelt essay for the Huffington Post. Curtis played Dushku's mother in True Lies, and she claims that Dushku told her about the alleged encounter with Kramer a few years ago. Kramer has denied all allegations against him. In a statement to Bustle via email, the stunt coordinator's representative said,
"We are aware of Ms. Dushku’s serious allegations. We are carefully monitoring the situation for corroboration and/or more facts before commenting further or taking action."
Kramer denied Dushku's allegations in a statement to Us Weekly:
This is all vile lies. I never molested this young woman, ever. Who in their right mind would do that and then still work with someone another six months or seven months or however long we had left to work together, wouldn’t that be a little weird?
Curtis' essay is at once a call to action for better protections for children to be enacted on sets and an acknowledgement that adult actors have a responsibility to better navigate their relationships with their young peers. Since her career began, Curtis has played the role of mother in one form or another to young actors, and she suggests that Dushku's alleged assault should raise awareness of the need for safe spaces to be created on set for child actors. Curtis wrote,
"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."
Dushku outlined the painful details of her alleged molestation in a Facebook post in which she suggests that when she told a friend about what allegedly happened to her, she was injured in a stunt accident. Curtis also notes that when it comes to action movies, stunt coordinators are responsible for the safety of actors which means that performers are asked to put their lives in these people's hands each day.
As more and more people have shared their #MeToo stories, the full extent of the abuse that happens in Hollywood and beyond has become staggering. In her essay, Curtis makes it clear that Dushku's allegations should start a discussion about the ways in which children should be a part of the conversation moving forward, so that no one else has to go through what Dushku allegedly went through on the set of True Lies. In her essay, Curtis said,
"We have all started to awaken to the fact that the terrible abuses now commonplace in daily news reports have been going on for a very long time. Unconscionably, those reports frequently come along with claims by the perpetrators that, as adults, those perpetrated against had some part in it.
Eliza’s story has now awakened us from our denial slumber to a new, horrific reality. The abuse of children."
Dushku's story is not the first instance of alleged abuse against child actors in Hollywood. In fact, there are far too many stories just like hers that prove that the guidelines protecting young people working within the industry should be reexamined.
True Lies director James Cameron also weighed in on Dushku's allegations with full support for the actor. In an interview with Us Weekly, Cameron said,
"It’s just heartbreaking that it happened to her. And I know the other party. Not well, he hasn’t worked for me since then. But the fact that this was happening under our noses and we didn’t know about, I think going forward it’s important for all industries, certainly Hollywood, to create a safe avenue for people to speak up. That they feel safe, and that anyone that might be a predator or an abuser knows that the mechanism is there and it’s encouraged and that there is no shame around it and that there will be consequences. I don’t think this is a Hollywood problem, I think that Hollywood is in a unique position of shining a spotlight on it."
It's heartening to see the people Dushku worked with on the set of True Lies stand by her during this difficult time, but as Curtis wrote for The Huffington Post, what Dushku alleges happened to her so many years ago is something that needs to be end here and now.
"The truth will set us all free," Curtis wrote. "Hopefully that freedom will bring a new ability to call out abuse and, when that abuse occurs, to have swift and consistent action, so that no one again will have to wait 25 years for their truth to be heard."
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.