Hollywood legend Dustin Hoffman faces yet another charge of sexual harassment from an actress who worked alongside him.
Kathryn Rossetter, who co-starred with Hoffman in “Death of a Salesman” on Broadway and in the TV movie, said in an editorial published Friday in The Hollywood Reporter that the actor groped her and pressured her into giving him massages.
This follows allegations made by Anne Graham Hunter, a former production assistant on the TV movie, who said Hoffman groped her and made sexually degrading remarks around her.
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Rossetter said Hoffman was initially very kind to her and helped her get the role, but his behavior soon changed and it “was the beginning of what was to become a horrific, demoralizing and abusive experience at the hands (literally) of one of my acting idols.”
The actress detailed how Hoffman would place his hand on the inside of her thighs as they waited to go onstage, explaining that she was on a live microphone and could not protest — Rossetter said Hoffman became so aggressive that he penetrated her one night with his fingers.
“One night in Chicago, I felt his hand up under my slip on the inside of my thighs. I was completely surprised and tried to bat him away while watching the stage for my cues. After the show he was busy with the producer and director so I had no access to him to address it. It then happened almost every show. Six to eight shows a week. 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?”
Rossetter also wrote about Hoffman groping her when they took pictures together at parties, sharing one such photo when he was caught in the act.
The actress insisted that contrary to how it may look, she was never complicit in the act.
“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.”
She also alleged that Hoffman pulled her slip up once, revealing her body and breasts to the crew.
“Then one night I was in my position at the mic preparing for my laughing scene. Dustin arrived and took his seat behind me. There was an unusual number of the crew backstage that night — men who were not needed until intermission or the end of the show. 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.”
Rossetter said she eventually told Hoffman, “Leave me alone!” Which worked for no more than three days.
She said she considered reporting him to Actors Equity, but “was cautioned by some respected theatre professionals that if I did, I would probably lose my job and, because he was such a powerful star, any hope of a career.”
“It was Dustin’s playpen,” she wrote.
But make no mistake about it, Rossetter was not having any fun at the time.
“Along with the nightly sexual harassment, he eroded my confidence, my dignity,” she said. “He humiliated and demeaned me. He robbed me of my joy in the experience and he left dirty fingerprints on my soul.”
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