American actor and movie producer, Micheal Douglas, 73, has issued a pre-emptive denial over an allegation that he engaged in a sexual act in front of a former female employee in the 1980s.
The Oscar-winning actor addressed the potential allegations made by the unnamed woman during a recent interview with US entertainment trade publication Deadline.
According to Douglas, his attorney had contacted him to say that another publication, The Hollywood Reporter, was considering a story on the woman’s allegations who claimed that he “used colourful language” in front her and spoke “raunchily, or dirtily” with his friends in phone conversations that she overheard.
He also said the woman in her claims said he allegedly “blackballed her from the industry and stopped her from getting another job” and engaged in a sexual act in front of her.
Read an excerpt from the interview below.
DEADLINE: Why are you coming forward before an expose story that may or may not surface, when your preemptive move will draw attention and create controversy all its own?
DOUGLAS: I felt the need to get ahead of this. It pertains to me but I’m also getting a sense of how it reflects in our culture, and what is going on today. I see it as a cautionary tale. Right before the holidays in December, the day my son got early acceptance to the college he wants to go to, when we were all ecstatic, I got a message from my attorney that The Hollywood Reporter wanted to do a story about an employee that worked for me approximately 32 years ago. She claims that, One, I used colorful language in front of her, not at her, but that I used colorful language. Two, she claims that in conversations I had in front of her, on the phone, that I spoke raunchily, or dirtily with friends of mine, in private conversations. I fired her eventually, for the work she was doing, but Three, she claims that I blackballed her from the industry and stopped her form getting another job.
And then, Four, she claims that I masturbated in front of her. My attorney was asked, ‘do I have any comment?’ I said, yeah, let me speak to the reporter. I tried to think to reach back thirty plus years to try to remember. I remembered this woman: sophisticated intelligent, good sense of humor. A novelist, who has written books and published novels and was an active feminist, and proud of it. My head was reeling. I just couldn’t put this together. I’ve had no contact with her, in thirty-plus years. I talked to the reporter and said, ‘listen, as far as using colorful language in front her, I apologize. None of it was directed at her; she didn’t say it was. It was my office and that was the tone that I set and as far as conversations with friends.’ I work out of my house, my apartment in New York at the time, to the best of my recollection. As to colorful language, she may have overheard private conversations, and if she was offended, she could have excused herself. As far as blackballing her, that was completely untrue. She was a lady who was involved in development at my company, and we just didn’t have a good development record in the time she was there, so I just moved on. I never blackballed her. If people from the industry called me to ask about her, I would have been honest, but I never blackballed her.
Finally, masturbating in front of her? I don’t know where to begin. This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever.
The reporter told me, ‘she did say that you never harassed her, never touched her,’ and I said…okay. So I didn’t know where this comes from. The reporter said, ‘let me digest this, and we’ll sit on it over the holidays and get back into it after.’ My family had a lovely holiday, we came back and literally on the day of my arrival, The Hollywood Reporter got in touch with me and said, she’s running around, possibly trying to give this story to other people, so we’re going to run with it. I said, I don’t think that’s justification, just because you might get scooped, to run a story like this. My attorney did say they had been approached by Variety or somebody else, asking if there was anything going on.
I was floored. I didn’t know what to say and I tried to digest it. The accusations are minimal, except of course for the idea of masturbating in front of her. She supposedly had three friends who would back her up, that she had mentioned this to. I pride myself of being so supportive of the women’s movement. My mother was an actress, and I myself married to an actress and have been supportive of this movement wholeheartedly, through all my years. I was forced to look over my past. I’ve had up to 20 female executives who worked at my company in different areas over the years. Over 20 producers I partnered with on pictures have been women. Not to mention all the actresses I’ve worked with and the hundreds of performers. How am I, in a 50 year career in this industry, dealing with an employee 33 years ago who perhaps is disgruntled that I let her go, even though I have never heard from her in 32 years. And a legitimate trade publication is going to try and print this story? There is no corroboration, just that they found out somebody else might run the story.
DEADLINE: Clearly, the most serious thing being alleged is that you masturbated in front of a woman who worked for your company. You deny it. It doesn’t sound like there are other witnesses who observed it?
DEADLINE: Just to be completely clear here. Are you saying that you never harassed this woman, or anyone else, in such a salacious manner as she has alleged to a journalist?
DOUGLAS: Absolutely; that’s exactly what I am saying.
DEADLINE: It almost seems like those man in jeopardy movies you used to make in the ‘80s. What’s it feel like to be targeted, based on someone making an allegation, and if a journalist can find several friends of hers who say she mentioned it to them, that is the bar for publication?
DOUGLAS: It’s extremely painful. I pride myself on my reputation in this business, not to mention the long history of my father and everything else. I don’t have skeletons in my closet, or anyone else who’s coming out or saying this. I’m bewildered why, after 32 years, this is coming out, now. As I say, I will fess up to colorful language, but the issue of masturbating in front of her? That rung is something I’ve only heard about the last year. It’s not an expression that related to the ‘80s. So I thought it stunk. And I tried to figure out, why the hell would somebody do this? The part that hurt the worst is having to share something like this to your wife and your children. My kids are really upset, has to go to school worrying this is going to be in some article about me, being a sexual harasser. They’re scared and very uncomfortable.
My wife has a long career, and as a woman, she has been very supportive. So what is this? The woman, it turns out, is a blogger. We’ve had to do some quick research, and she has mentioned my name sometimes in her blogs. Nothing terrible. It leads me to believe she either has or is trying to get a book deal. I can’t believe that someone would cause someone else pain like this. Maybe she is disgruntled her career didn’t go the way she hoped and she is holding this grudge. It has caused tremendous stress to me for something I believe I have nothing to regret or feel responsible for.
I’m certainly regretful if she was offended by the language in the ‘80s, but this other thing, she would not be getting a story in a trade paper with these other issues. The one that she raises, is the reason for that story.
DEADLINE: So that is why we are speaking?
DOUGLAS: I had the choice of waiting for a story to come out, one that will clearly get picked up by other newspapers and magazines, and then I have to sit there and try to defend myself. Or, try to share with the public, a little ahead of the story, my thoughts and concerns. Again, I am sorry if I used coarse language with my friends. But this is really debilitating. It can have a large effect on my career. And also, I think it really sends a message out.
DEADLINE: What message?
DOUGLAS: Look, I support the #metoo movement with all my heart. I have always supported women, along the way. This is the kind of step that can set that movement back. Being accused, without a chance [to defend yourself] in court. To not even really have the information in front of you, to be able to argue or defend yourself. There is no due process, no chance of seeing evidence in front of me from my accuser. It worries me. I saw Sheryl Sandberg, warned about a potential backlash in this area. I’m just happy to be able to present my story. I’m grateful to have the support of my wife and my kids who’ve had to share this with me. It has been a complete nightmare. It’s really hard to conceive that I have to defend myself against a situation that is 32 years ago, and it was not what they are saying it was.
Micheal who is married to Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, 48, has three children, Cameron Douglas, Carys Zeta Douglas and Dylan Michael Douglas.
Source: Linda Ikeji’s blog