Eliza Dushku has broken her silence in a powerful op-ed for The Boston Globe to repudiate what she describes as “revisionist accounts” put forth by CBS and former co-star Michael Weatherly, whom she accused of sexual harassment.
CBS paid the actress a $9.5 million settlement, which was disclosed in a New York Times report last week, to ensure her silence after she appeared for three episodes on the legal drama “Bull.” She alleges series star Weatherly made “cruel” and “aggressive” jokes about sex, rape and her appearance in front of cast and crew members.
Dushku rejects the notion that her grievances arose from a misunderstanding between herself and Weatherly, who apologized in a statement to the Times, saying he was “mortified” his sense of humor misfired. Dushku, meanwhile, declined to comment in the bombshell report due to the conditions of the settlement. However, after Weatherly and CBS did respond to the Times, Dushku says in Wednesday’s op-ed, she decided to speak out.
“I grew up in Boston with three older brothers and have generally been considered a tomboy. I made a name for myself playing a badass vampire slayer turned tough LA cheerleader,” Dushku writes. “I do not want to hear that I have a ‘humor deficit’ or can’t take a joke. I did not over-react. I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired.”
In the piece, the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” alum details the alleged misconduct, which was caught on video that was used as evidence during a mediation with the network, and she chalks up Weatherly’s behavior to a “deeply insecure power play, about a need to dominate and demean.”
Dushku writes that at one point she tried to mediate the issue with Weatherly directly in order to include him in the process of making the set a less sexualized environment, to which he allegedly responded that “no one respects women more than I do.”
The actress also says that Weatherly enjoyed the benefits of a close and personal friendship with former CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves, who’s been accused of multiple instances of workplace sexual misconduct, including forced oral sex, groping and retaliation.
“[Weatherly] regaled me with stories about using Moonves’s plane, how they vacationed together, and what great friends they were,” Dushku recounts in the piece. “Weatherly wielded this special friendship as an amulet and, as I can see now, as a threat.”
The network announced on Monday that Moonves, who resigned in September, will not receive an estimated $120 million in severance after not fully cooperating with investigations into the allegations.
Dushku asserts Weatherly was directly responsible for her firing, which she says occurred to the surprise of CBS executives who’d insisted her work on the series was “fantastic.”
Dushku ends the op-ed with a call for a “culture change” at the network, which has been plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct in recent months, and says she made it a condition of her settlement that Weatherly’s behavior be monitored on set by someone trained in sexual harassment compliance.
“I am still trying to make sense of how this could happen, especially in these times,” she writes. “The last thing I want at this point in my life is to be in the news.”
Read the full Boston Globe op-ed here.