“I was told that the role would be a six-year commitment to play a smart, strong leading lady, a confident high-powered lawyer meant to counterbalance the existing male lead, and that the role had been written specifically with me in mind,” Dushku said during the hearing.
“However, in my first week on my new job I found myself the brunt of crude, sexualized, and lewd verbal assaults. I suffered near constant sexual harassment from my co-star. This was beyond anything I had experienced in my 30-year career.”
While she did not refer to her former co-star Michael Weatherly by name, she opened up about specific instances of harassment she experienced working with a lead actor.
Dushku said, “[The lead actor] frequently referred to me as ‘legs.’ He would smell me and leeringly look me up and down. Off script, in front of about 100 crew members and cast members, he once said that he would take me to his rape van and use lube and long phallic things on me and take me over his knee and spank me like a little girl. Another time he told me that his sperm were powerful swimmers.”
In one particular incident Dushku said that her co-star “shouted out that he and his buddy wanted to have a threesome with me and began mock penis jousting while the camera was still rolling. Then, as I walked off to my coffee break between scenes, a random male crew member sidled up to me at the food service table and whispered, ‘I am with Bull. I want to have a threesome with you too, Eliza.’”
Dushku alleges that after speaking to the unnamed co-star about his comments, he told her “no one is more respectful of women than me. I grew up with sisters.” According to Dushku, Weatherly texted the head of CBS Studios that she had a “humor deficit” and that “he didn’t want me on the show.” She was fired the next day.
Due to the arbitration clause in her contract, Dushku was ushered into silence. She testifies the clause “would be used to keep what had happened to me a secret and would protect CBS and the sexual harassment perpetrator who had blatantly retaliated against me for trying to stop the harassment in my workplace.”
According to Deadline, her testimony part of the committee hearing titled “Silenced: How Forced Arbitration Keeps Victims of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment in the Shadow.” It’s being held as lawmakers consider new legislation which would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases.
The actor stated to members of the House Judiciary Committee that she was able to come forward now as she was responding to a congressional subpoena. “Countless others who are bound by arbitration are not so fortunate,” Dushku said.
In 2018, the New York Times first reported the $9.5 million settlement Dusku was paid by CBS to stay silent about the harassment, which included a non-disclosure agreement. CBS and Weatherly then released their own statement, offering their version of events to the public. Viewing this as a breach of the settlement agreement, Dushku went public with her experience in a op-ed to the Boston Globe.
The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on the bill on Wednesday. Weatherly continues to maintain his role on Bull, which is in the midst of airing its sixth season.