Eliza Dushku has accused stunt coordinator Joel Kramer of molesting her while they worked on True Lies in 1994. At the time, Dushku was just 12 years old and Kramer was 36.
In a Facebook post, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dark Angel actress said Kramer spent “months grooming” her, building the trust of her and her parents even as he openly called her by the nickname “Jailbait.” One evening, he allegedly “lured” her to his Miami hotel room with the promise of a crew pool party and a sushi dinner. “I remember vividly how he methodically drew the shades and turned down the lights,” she recalled, “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.”
At that point, she said he “wrapped me with his gigantic writhing body, and rubbed all over me.” Dushku continued in disturbing detail: “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.” On the taxi ride home, Kramer made Dushku sit on his lap as he “grew aroused again,” but apparently “grew cold” with the young star after that.
Dushku confided in a few adult friends, including one later identified as her then-agent JoAnne Colonna. Colonna had brought Kramer’s conduct to the attention of executive producer Rae Sanchini prior to the incident and confronted her about it on set the following day (something Sanchini denied in a statement to Deadline). Colonna also pulled Kramer aside and told him, “You are going to stay the fuck away from [Eliza].” Later that same day, Dushku was involved in a stunt injury that left her with broken ribs. Of that incident, Dushku wrote,
“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. Whereas he was supposed to be my protector, he was my abuser.”
Dushku’s story has also been corroborated by her parents; her on-set legal guardian, Sue Booth-Forbes; and a close male friend, Peter Conti. Booth-Forbers said in a statement she’d “reported Kramer’s inappropriate sexual behavior” to an authority figure on set, only to be “met with blank stares” and “the sense that I wasn’t telling that person anything they didn’t already know.”
True Lies director James Cameron said he had not heard of Dushku’s allegations until her post. “Had I known about it, there would have been no mercy,” he said during a Television Critics Association panel. “Now especially that I have daughters there would really have been no mercy.”
Jamie Lee Curtis, who co-starred in True Lies, wrote an article for the Huffington Post in which she said Dushku told her of Kramer’s conduct a few years ago. “I was shocked and saddened then and still am today,” Curtis wrote. She added, “All of us must take some responsibility that the loose and relaxed camaraderie that we share with our young performers has carried with it a misguided assumption that they are adults in an adult world, capable of making adult choices.”
Kramer, whose recent work includes Blade Runner 2049, The Conjuring 2, and Furious 7, has called the allegations “just untrue.” He told The Hollywood Reporter that while he did take Dushku to his hotel for a crew pool-and-sushi party, “We took care of her like she was our kid. I don’t ever remember being alone with her. ‘Luring’ her up to my hotel room is just crazy.” He also said that he doesn’t recall her breaking her ribs, saying, “She may have gotten bruised…”
Since the news of the allegations broke, Kramer has been dropped by his talent agency, Worldwide Production Agency. Read Dushku’s full statement below.