The year is coming to an end but our fight for women’s rights is far from over. As HelloGiggles noted, “For all the progress the #MeToo movement has made, far too many sexual harassers and abusers still manage to escape without even a slap on the wrist.”
Last week, The New York Times released a report detailing what happened to actress Eliza Dushku’s (whom you might recognize as Buffy the Vampire Slayer) brief 2017 guest role on the CBS drama Bull. What not many fans know is, she was supposedly a full-time cast member. Apparently, her character was written off the story when she complained against her co-star and the show’s lead, Michael Weatherly, made several inappropriate comments and moves at him. This includes constant name-calling, eye-balling and leering, his offer to take her to his “rape van,” as well as his remark about having a threesome, among others.
In the statement to NYT, CBS acknowledged this and confirmed that they have agree to a private settlement with Eliza, worth $9.5 million, “the projected amount that Ms. Dushku would have received for the balance of her contract as a series regular.”
“The allegations in Ms. Dushku’s claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done,” it said. It also included a statement about Michael’s alleged apology to the actress: “When Eliza told me that she wasn’t comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologized.” It further read, “After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza.”
How the chief compliance officer at CBS responded to Eliza Dushku’s harassment complaints about a CBS star: Turning over outtakes unaware they *captured the harassment on film* https://t.co/HHixBAA9jN pic.twitter.com/byfLTww3hG
— Mark Berman (@markberman) December 14, 2018
Now, the actress herself is giving her side of the story through an op-ed article for The Boston Globe. She claimed that she originally planned to honor the terms of her settlement and remain silent, but since CBS didn’t honor theirs, she’s shedding light on what she alleges really happened. While she did confirm the instances of harassment in the original NYT report, she clarified that Bull‘s showrunner fired her within 48 hours of her making a report. More importantly, she wrote that Michael never actually apologized to her. Instead, she claimed he tried to explain his behavior by claiming she “didn’t get his attempt at humor.” She wrote, “that’s how a perpetrator rationalizes when he is caught.” The actress went on to say that she’s not new to working with men in the industry, “I can handle a locker room,” she said. “I do not want to hear that I have a “humor deficit” or can’t take a joke. I did not overreact. I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired.”
“My story is true and it’s really affected me, and I can’t talk about it," Eliza Dushku told investigators about the harassment she experienced on CBS's "Bull." CBS ultimately paid her $9.5 million in a secret settlement that required her to stay silent. https://t.co/Ib7XdelfRJ
— Rachel C. Abrams (@RachelAbramsNY) December 14, 2018
She further claimed: “For Weatherly’s part, it looks like a deeply insecure power play, about a need to dominate and demean. In no way was it playful, nor was it joking with two willing participants.”
The locker room rhetoric needs to die—soon. Men merely brushing off their actions, in complete disregard of its consequences, is sickening. Eliza said, “What is hardest to share is the way he made me feel for 10 to 12 hours per day for weeks. This was classic workplace harassment that became workplace bullying. I was made to feel dread nearly all the time I was in his presence. And this dread continues to come up whenever I think of him and that experience.”
She also wrote about how Michael regularly bragged about his strong friendship and brotherhood with former CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves. “Weatherly wielded this special friendship as an amulet and, as I can see now, as a threat.” Incidentally, Moonves resigned in September following several sexual misconduct allegations. And investigations on these allegations, which included Bull’s video outtakes clearly showing Michael’s harassment towards Eliza, were actually what led to NYT‘s discovery of this case.
Ironic how the brotherhood which he thought would protect him actually led to his downfall. Or future downfall. Because this issue might not be settled this year, and Michael might think he has gotten away with it—but best believe we will be stronger this 2019. And we will be coming for him.
Art by Marian Hukom
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