Just hours before Shane Black’s The Predator premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday night, a Los Angeles Times report revealed that a scene featuring a convicted sex offender was removed from the action-horror movie. Star Olivia Munn, who performed in the scene alongside the actor without being informed of his past, reported the situation to 20th Century Fox. It turns out Fox was also unaware of the conviction, but that director Shane Black was.
In 2010, Steven Wilder Striegel pleaded guilty to risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer after facing allegations that he attempted to lure a 14-year-old into a sexual relationship. A 2009 arrest warrant affidavit also alleges that physical contact included “kissing, touching [Jane] Doe’s breast over her clothing, rubbing her legs and stroking her neck” on several occasions. For the crime, he served six months in jail and registered as a sex offender.
Black defended his decision to cast Striegel, a personal friend. “I personally chose to help a friend,” he said in a written statement to The Times. “I can understand others might disapprove, as his conviction was on a sensitive charge and not to be taken lightly.” He also apologized “to all of those, past and present, I’ve let down by having Steve around them without giving them a voice in the decision.”
Munn responded by saying she found it “both surprising and unsettling that Shane Black, our director, did not share this information to the cast, crew, or Fox Studios prior to, during, or after production.”
The piece goes on to detail Striegel’s past behavior via stomach-churning excerpts from e-mails he sent to the 14-year old. Though he admitted to the e-mails, he disputed allegations that the pair had any physical contact. He added, “This was an enormously unfortunate chapter in my life, and one that I took, and continue to take, personal responsibility for. If I had even an inkling that my involvement with The Predator would be a point of difficulty for Shane Black, or cast any kind of shadow over a movie that I wish only great success for, I would, of course, never have been involved in any capacity.”