The media and anyone who’s been active online in the past decade have all been reckoning with their mistreatment of Britney Spears in the early 2000s while the pop star was going through a mental health crisis and trapped in an emotionally abusive dynamic with her father. As a direct result, many people are looking at other pop culture figures who were also maligned by the media. One of those figures is Courtney Stodden, who married Green Mile star Doug Hutchinson when they were 16 and Hutchinson was 51. (Stodden recently shared on social media that they’re non-binary and use they/them pronouns.) In an interview with The Daily Beast, they detail the horrific mistreatment and sexualization they experienced at the hands of the press as a minor, and they recall how their ex-husband groomed and emotionally abused them.
Stodden details how Hutchinson took advantage of them when they were 15 years old. Stodden says he initiated a flirty correspondence via email. “He told me everything a young girl would want to hear from somebody she’s craving love from, and when I got married to him, he changed. And he knew he had me where he wanted me, because he’s a master groomer,” says Stodden. They also add that the stepmother of a 15-year-old girl contacted them and said Hutchinson was grooming her stepdaughter.
Stodden also notes that Hutchinson groomed their parents, manipulating the two adults so they’d allow teenaged Stodden to be with the much older man. Stodden also recalls that Hutchinson wanted to isolate them from their parents, saying, “There were very difficult times where I thought I would never speak to my mom again—and Doug loved that. He didn’t want her to be in my life at all or give her any regard. He would even email my mom from different emails saying that I don’t love her anymore. Just crazy, manipulative tactics he used to isolate me.”
When interviewer Marlow Stern mentions the horrific things celebrities said about Stodden at the height of the relationship’s publicity, Stodden says that Chrissy Teigen severely bullied them on social media. “She wouldn’t just publicly tweet about wanting me to take ‘a dirt nap’ but would privately DM me and tell me to kill myself. Things like, ‘I can’t wait for you to die,’” Stodden recalls. Stern asks Stodden if anyone had apologized to them, and they admit that Perez Hilton stood up for them, and the rest of the apologies came from reporters and people online. But Teigen has yet to apologize for her actions. Now, keep in mind that this was a teenager married to a predator who was being attacked by adults online—and yes, even a former A.V. Club writer participated in the vitriol, referring to Stodden as a “horrible child bride.” We all owe Stodden a massive apology.