Eliza Dushku has accused a well-known and prolific Hollywood stunt coordinator of sexually assaulting her during the filming of True Lies, when the Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse actress was only 12 years old. Dushku posted a lengthy essay on Facebook last night, opening up about an incident from 25 years ago in which she says Joel Kramer—whose recent credits include high-profile projects like Blade Runner 2049, Star Trek: Discovery, and Westworld—first earned her and her family’s trust during her time on the Arnold Schwarzenegger action vehicle, and then abused it by luring her to a hotel room in the guise of letting her swim at the facility’s pool.
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.
Dushku goes on to outline how Kramer allegedly used his position as the film’s stunt coordinator—and, thus, the man responsible for her safety on the set of James Cameron’s stunt-heavy action thriller—to threaten and silence the 12-year-old child he had loudly, publicly nicknamed “Jailbait” in front of his co-workers. Specifically, she recalls how, on the same day a “tough adult female friend” confronted Kramer about his actions against Dushku, a stunt on the film’s set went “wrong,” putting the child actress in the hospital with broken ribs. “On a daily basis he rigged wires and harnesses on my 12-year-old body,” Dushku writes. “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.”
Dushku says she told her family about Kramer’s actions, and that she had been under the impression that he had been “found out” and quietly ostracized from Hollywood. She says she decided to speak up about his treatment of her in light of the #MeToo movement, when she realized that he was still actively working, and not long after she says she saw an internet photo of him “hugging a young girl.”
Through the years, brave fans have regularly shared with me how some of my characters have given them the conviction to stand up to their abusers. Now it is you who give me strength and conviction. I hope that speaking out will help other victims and protect against future abuse.
Update: The Wrap has gotten a comment from Kramer on the accusations, with the stunt coordinator denying all of Dushku’s charges. “Wow. That’s news to me. I never sexually assaulted her,” he said. “She’s a sweet girl. We all looked out for her, that’s surprising,” he added, calling Dushku’s statements “absolute lies.” “I liked Eliza. We took care of her. Nobody every called her ‘Jailbait.’” He later “scoffed at the details of the story,” saying, “That’s a pretty good memory. She could ruin my career.”
Update: According to The Hollywood Reporter, James Cameron was asked about Dushku’s accusations today during a panel during the TCA press tour. While noting that he had only just heard about Dushku’s account, he praised the actress as “brave” for coming forward, and stated that he hadn’t worked with “the other party” since filming on True Lies concluded. Cameron also praised all the other women who have come forward to shine the light on similar stories in recent months, calling it “a great moment in history that’s unfortunately founded on personal tragedies that have occurred for so many of these women,” and emphasizing the importance of instituting new policies to make it easier for survivors of assault to come forward and be believed when incidents like the one Dushku described in her post occur. Finally, he emphasized that he had had no knowledge of Kramer’s alleged actions against the young actress, stating, “Had I known about it, there would have been no mercy. Now especially, I have daughters. There’s really no mercy now.”