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Another Woman Has Come Forward Accusing Dustin Hoffman of Sexual Harassment, Assault

dustin hoffman sexual harassment assault

It’s been just over a month since Anna Graham Hunter published her account of being repeatedly sexually harassed by Dustin Hoffman on the set of the Death of a Salesman film adaptation when she was 17. It’s been about a week since Hoffman responded to questions from John Oliver with a master class in What Not to Say When Accused of Harassment. He denied the allegations while also trotting out the old “it was a different time” defense, while his producer yelled at Oliver to focus on the “real” predators. Basically, it was serial harasser bingo and everyone lost.

Now, another woman has published her story of working with Hoffman and it’s pretty horrific. Kathryn Rossetter was a young actress in New York who managed to get an audition to play Willy Loman’s mistress in the 1984 revival of Death of a Salesman–the production that was adapted for the film. She recalls being practically handpicked by Hoffman because he liked her laugh, even though everyone else thought she was too young for the role.

During the first week of rehearsals, Hoffman reportedly insisted Rossetter join him in a hotel room he said he kept nearby for lunchbreak naps and studying his lines. She says he asked her for a backrub and removed his shirt. He referred to it as their hotel room, which Rossetter chalked up to Hoffman’s famed reliance on method acting. After all, she was playing his mistress. But instead, she says, “That was the beginning of what was to become a horrific, demoralizing and abusive experience at the hands (literally) of one of my acting idols.”

Over the course of the show’s run, she describes the seemingly nonstop abuse. He would call her into his dressing room during performances when they weren’t onstage and make her give him foot rubs–something Anna Graham Hunter also recounted Hoffman requesting from her. With a guard outside the room and the stage just a few feet beyond that, she says she didn’t know how to say no, or how to protest when he would try to get her to work her way up his legs to his crotch.

She recalls a disgusting trick Hoffman would play, one that’s all too familiar among the recent outings of famous men, politicians especially, who frequently have women asking for pictures and seemingly can’t help but take advantage of the physical proximity that requires.

After the shows at parties, whenever he had a picture taken with me, he would put his arm around my rib cage and then grab my breast just before they snapped the picture and then remove it. He was very skilled at dropping his hand just as the picture snapped to avoid it being recorded. But it was pre-digital. You didn’t know what was there until they were developed. Only by luck do I have one such picture — where the camera caught him in the act. A picture I had taken with hopes of sending it to my family. A millisecond in time. There I am — big smile and my arm moving toward his with the intention to push it away. But caught as it is, it seems I’m complicit with the gesture. I was not. Not ever.

Maybe the most disturbing part of Rossetter’s account is her description of Hoffman’s nightly backstage assault.

Since they loved my laugh, it was decided that I would stand in the wings on stage left at a mic and laugh on cue in a memory scene being played out on the stage. My laugh had to be choreographed and timed. That scene led directly into the scene in the second act with Dustin and me in the hotel room and Biff walking in on us. My costume was a vintage slip, no bra, garter belt and stockings. The wing space was limited, so directly behind me was a chair where Dustin would sit, with his dresser in attendance, to take water and a short rest before our final scene together.

She says that one night, Hoffman put his hand on the inside of her thighs, under her slip during that scene. And he started doing that during nearly every performance.

I couldn’t speak to him in the moment because I was on a live mic. He kept it up and got more and more aggressive. One night he actually started to stick his fingers inside me. Night after night I went home and cried. I withdrew and got depressed and did not have any good interpersonal relationships with the cast. How could the same man who fought to get me the job, who complimented my work, who essentially launched my career, who gave me the benefit of his wisdom as an actor, how could he also be this sexual power abuser? Was I doing something? Was it my fault?

One night, she noticed the offstage wing where her microphone was more crowded than usual, with a large number of male crewmembers.

Dustin started his grope. I started my batting him away and laughing on cue. Suddenly he grabs the bottom of my slip and pulls it up over my head, exposing my breasts and body to the crew and covering my face. I missed one of my laugh cues. Dustin had spread the word to the crew to come backstage at that time for a surprise. What a jokester. Mr. Fun. It was sickening.

After the show, one of the actors in the stage scene screamed at me and accused me of being totally unprofessional because I missed my cue. I tried to tell him what happened and he said it was my fault and walked away.

When at last I found an opportunity, I pushed Dustin up against the wall screaming, “Fuck you! How would you like it if someone did that to you before you walked out on stage every night, Mr. Method Actor? Leave me alone!” He did… for three days. And then it was back to groping as usual.

How will Dustin Hoffman dismiss these claims? Will he insist they’re not representative of who he is? That it was a different time? That it was method acting, designed to help Rossetter get into character? He does have a well-documented history of being horrible to women under the guise of imposing bastardized method acting on them.

Hoffman can deny these claims and dismiss them. He can yell at John Oliver or any other person who refuses to stay silent. The world knows what kind of man he is now.

(via THR, image: Shutterstock)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.