One of five women who accused iZombie actor Robert Knepper of sexual assault is now suing him in court, claiming he defamed her when he publicly denied her allegations.
Lawyers for Susan Bertram, a veteran costume supervisor who has worked in Hollywood for nearly three decades, filed a civil complaint against Knepper in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday morning.
The complaint arose from Knepper’s “repeated, intentionally published defamatory statements that the plaintiff falsely accused him of assaulting her.”
“In fact, plaintiff’s statements were true and accurate,” the complaint reads. “Robert Knepper attacked and sexually assaulted plaintiff.”
Knepper, who currently stars on The CW’s iZombie, but is perhaps best known for his role as Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell on the Fox show Prison Break, had not yet responded to this complaint by the time of publishing.
“We believe Susan Bertram and we are proud to represent her,” said Marvin Krakow, one of Bertram’s attorneys. “We think her case can make a difference in the ways women are treated, and we are happy to be part of that change.”
In the wake of the initial wave of allegations last year, Warner Bros. said that it had conducted an investigation into Knepper’s behavior on the set of iZombie, the DC-Comics drama in which he stars, and found “no evidence of wrongdoing.” The actor also had a starring, but short-lived, role on the latest season of Shotwime’s Homeland.
“We have taken and will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved, which is our top priority,” Warner Bros. said in a statement at the time.
Through her attorney, Bertram issued the following statement: “I am bringing this lawsuit because I do not want anyone else to suffer as I did when I was young and starting out in my career.”
The Hollywood Reporter first published Bertram’s initial allegations in November and then, a month later, published a second story with detailed accounts from four additional women whose stories echoed some of the behavior Bertram described. Knepper has consistently denied the stories, characterizing them as “false.”
Of the five women who came forward to accuse Knepper, however, Bertram is the lone plaintiff in this civil action.
Bertram’s initial allegation dated back to 1991, when she says Knepper assaulted her on the set of the Allison Anders drama Gas Food Lodging, which was filming in New Mexico.
Bertram says that when she went to Knepper’s trailer to drop off some clothes, the actor reached under her dress and grabbed her crotch “as hard as he could.”
Then, she says, he pinned her against a wall and said, “I’m going to fuck your brains out.”
Bertram says she fled the trailer and locked herself in a bathroom, where she discovered that her undergarments were ripped and she was bleeding as a result of the assault.
In response to Bertram’s initial allegations, Knepper issued a statement on Instagram that read: “Over the past few weeks, my wife and I have discussed the pain women have experienced and the bravery they have shown in coming forward. I am shocked and devastated to be falsely accused of violence against a woman. That’s just not who I am. To those who have reached out today with words of support and encouragement, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Now Bertram says that statement along with a subsequent one in which Knepper said, “I need to reiterate that these accusations against me are false,” defamed her.
“Robert Knepper knew and intended that his statement would be included in The Hollywood Reporter article and would be widely disseminated,” the complaint reads. “He also knew that his statement was false and would cause injury to Susan Bertram.”
The complaint further alleges that Knepper’s responses “impugned plaintiff’s credibility and character” and “inflicted emotional distress and damage” on Bertram.
Bertram is seeking compensation for damages. A representative for Knepper did not immediately respond for comment.