Actress Eliza Dushku, who played the daughter of stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in the 1994 film True Lies, says she was molested by the stunt coordinator on the film. Dushku, who has also starred in television shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse, was only 12-years-old at the time. Saturday she wrote a Facebook post outlining the assault and explaining why she has finally decided to come forward with her 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…
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…
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)…
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.
One of the people Dushku told at the time was her then-agent JoAnne Colonna. Yesterday, Colonna confirmed Dushku’s account to Deadline and added that she had complained to producers about the tone on the set even before the alleged assault:
Colonna said she had contacted True Lies executive producer Rae Sanchini to raise concerns of misconduct even before the incident occurred, while the movie was filming in Miami.
“I’d called Rae multiple times because there was such inappropriateness going on the set,” Colonna told Deadline. “There was sexual talk to and at her at various occasions. She was a very feisty, precocious 12-year-old, a tomboy, they may have felt she was one of the boys but it was really inappropriate from the top.”
After Dushku told her about the assault, Colonna, to her credit, went to the set and confronted Kramer:
“She told me. I couldn’t believe it. I said ‘I’m coming to the set tomorrow’,” Colonna said. Dushku pleaded with her not to tell anyone for fear of retribution but Colonna went to the set anyway.
She said she spoke with Sanchini and she also pulled Kramer aside and told him,” You are going to stay the f*uck away from her.”
As for what happened after — “Nobody really did anything,” Colonna said. She recalled Sanchini’s reaction being, “what was a 12-year-old girl doing hanging out with a crew late at night.”
James Cameron, who directed the film, spoke yesterday about the allegation saying he was never made aware of it during the production.
Cameron said he had had no idea what was going on because he is always removed from interpersonal situations on a set since he’s usually so focused on his creative process. “Directors are historically pretty oblivious to the interpersonal things that are happening on their sets,” he said. “Had I known about it, there would have been no mercy. Now especially that I have daughters there would really have been no mercy.”
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who played Dushku’s mother in the film, wrote a piece for HuffPost in which she confirms that Dushku told her the story several years ago:
Yesterday, Eliza Dushku published her account of having been molested during the shooting of the movie “True Lies,” in which I played her mother. She had shared that story with me privately a few years ago. I was shocked and saddened then and still am today…
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.
Finally, Kramer, the stunt coordinator, is denying any misbehavior involving Dushku. He told deadline it was “Lies, lies, lies.”
“These are outlandish, manipulated lies,” he told Deadline. “I never sexually molested her. I’m sick to my stomach. It’s not true. I think she’s making this up in her imagination. This is all lies. Lies, lies, lies. This is just crazy. I treated her like a daughter. We all looked out for her.”
Meanwhile, two more accusers came forward today. One accuser was 16 at the time. She claims she visited the set with her friend who was the younger sister of a woman working for Kramer as a stunt performer at the time. The stunt performer claims she later learned Kramer had sex with the 16-year-old and that when she confronted him about it, he admitted it:
Albert said Kramer brought the girls back to the hotel to swim, and that while the three of them were in the pool, “he pulled his dick out and said, ‘You cannot handle this,’ and then began to swim towards them. That’s when my sister left. Even today, she feels guilty for having left her friend.”
She continued, “My sister ended up leaving and she left her friend there with Joel. Joel had sex with the 16-year-old girl. She was 16. He was 39. His room number was 424.” (Albert said that whenever the girls – now women with children of their own – refer to the incident, they use “424” as code.)…
“The next day I went to work and confronted Joel Kramer. It was just he and I in his stunt trailer and I point blank said to him: ‘I’m going to ask you one question, and if you lie to me, I am going to let the parents come in and go to the producers and let all of hell rain down on you. Did you have sex with her?’ And he said ‘Yes.’ He went on to try to vindicate himself, but it was too late. I said to him, ‘I’m not going to go back to LA and talk about this, but if I am asked, I am not going to lie for you.’ And that is how I still feel today.”
But in a statement given to Deadline today, Kramer now denies having sex with the girl (who he says was 17, not 16). He claims she came to his room uninvited and admits they fooled around but denies they had sex. He also points out that the age of consent in the state was 16, meaning what he did wasn’t technically illegal (assuming she wasn’t forced), just extremely creepy.
The one person who hasn’t spoken up about this yet is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Given that he played Dushku’s father in the film, I would expect some fatherly concern from the actor but it seems that, so far, he hasn’t issued a statement.