UPDATE with statements from Dushku’s mother, brother Actress Eliza Dushku has accused famed stunt coordinator Joel Kramer of sexually molesting her when she was 12 years old during filming of True Lies. Dushku, the former Buffy The Vampire and Dollhouse actress, starred as the daughter of the characters played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, and Kramer, who has long been Schwarzenegger personal stunt double, was the film’s stunt coordinator.
She also claims that after Kramer was confronted by an adult she’d confided in, he intentionally injured her, breaking her ribs, in a stunt that went wrong during filming of the film’s Harrier Jet scene. “Whereas he was supposed to be my protector, he was my abuser,” the Bull actress wrote in a lengthy Facebook posting.
“These are outlandish, manipulated lies,” Kramer 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. How does a guy like me fight against something like this? I don’t know what to do. I guess I’ll have to get a lawyer and file a lawsuit against her for defamation and slander.”
Dushku’s accusation: “When I was 12 years old, while filming True Lies, I was sexually molested by Joel Kramer, one of Hollywood’s leading stunt coordinators,” she wrote. “Ever since, I have struggled with how and when to disclose this, if ever. At the time, I shared what happened to me with my parents, two adult friends and one of my older brothers. No one seemed ready to confront this taboo subject then, nor was I.”
Dushku goes on to detail the alleged assault in his hotel room, but notes that she was wearing shorts and that there was no sexual penetration. “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.”
“I remember how afterwards, the taxi driver stared at me in the rear view mirror when Joel Kramer put me on his lap in the backseat and clutched me and grew aroused again; and how my eyes never left the driver’s eyes during that long ride over a Miami bridge, back to my hotel and parent. I remember how Joel Kramer grew cold with me in the ensuing weeks, how everything felt different on the set.
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.”
Kramer also insisted that he never intentionally hurt her on the film. “I remember she might have gotten a little bruised” – from hanging by a harness and wires during the Harrier Jet scene – “but I don’t think she broke any ribs.”
“Why speak out now?” she asked on Facebook. “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). Sure, I’ve come to understand the terrible power dynamics that play into whistle-blowing by ‘subordinates’ against persons in power, how difficult it can be for someone to speak up. But I was a child. Over the years I’ve really struggled as I’ve wondered how my life might have been different if someone, any one grown-up who witnessed his sick ways, had spoken up before he lured me to that hotel room.
“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.”
Kramer, however, says that her claim that he was “found out” about other alleged assaults on young actors and was “forced to leave the business” years ago is another lie. “Look at my IMDb page,” he said. “There are no missing years. That’s another lie.” And says he believes that the photo of him hugging a little girl she refers to is from his own Facebook page from the film The Conjuring 2.
“Hollywood has been very good to me in many ways,” Dushka wrote. “Nevertheless, Hollywood also failed to protect me, a child actress. I like to think of myself as a tough Boston chick, in many ways I suppose not unlike Faith, Missy, or Echo. 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.
“With every person that speaks out, every banner that drops down onto my iphone screen disclosing similar stories/truths, my resolve strengthens. Sharing these words, finally calling my abuser out publicly by name, brings the start of a new calm.”
She added that she is “grateful to the women and men who have gone before me in recent months. The ever-growing list of sexual abuse and harassment victims who have spoken out with their truths have finally given me the ability to speak out. It has been indescribably exhausting, bottling this up inside me for all of these years.”
Someone accessed Kramer’s IMDb page today and posted that “Joel Kramer is a known child molester. He repeatedly abused children off set of numerous movies and then left their life in his hands on-set during stunts.” It’s since been taken down. “Somebody is hacking my IMDb page,” he said, “and now I’m getting all kinds of hate emails saying that I should kill myself.”
Dushku’s mother, Judith, confirmed her daughter’s account of the alleged assault. In a comment on Eliza’s Facebook page, she answered a commenter’s assertion that “Your parents have some answering to do. Big blockbuster or not, my child comes to me and others saying they have been abused like this? No chance in hell that child would be going back, I don’t care how much money or fame is at stake. Hollywood is vile and your parents made some poor decisions. I’m sorry.”
“I accept your condemnation as Eliza’s mother,” Judith wrote. “No, it was not her career that I feared for, as that meant nothing to me. I was afraid of Joel Kramer, too. And it was years later that I finally understood fully what really happened. At the time, Eliza was too scared to tell the whole story and in a way I think she protected me from knowing because she knew how frightened I was of the powerful men on the set. Her lose was the worst, but abuse can throw a wide net. I only began to understand this many years later. Thank you to your mother for what she did for you. I wish I had been that brave.”
Dushku’s brother, Aaron Dushku, also supports his sister, telling Deadline,
“I support my sister and believe it all to be true.”