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Seven Dustin Hoffman accusers penned a letter Wednesday thanking John Oliver for confronting the actor over their allegations, which include claims of Hoffman’s sexually harassing them in earlier years.
At a 20th anniversary panel and screening of the political film Wag the Dog, which Oliver moderated earlier this month, the Last Week Tonight host and Oscar-winning actor got into a heated argument after Oliver confronted Hoffman about the sexual harassment allegations made against him, in particular by Anna Graham Hunter. Hunter wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter last month, claiming the actor sexually harassed her when she was 17 years old while working as a production assistant for his 1985 film Death of a Salesman.
Though he argued with Oliver that he didn’t recall meeting Hunter, in a statement to THR, Hoffman expressed regret for ever imposing an uncomfortable situation upon his accuser. “I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am,” Hoffman said at the time.
During the panel, Oliver criticized Hoffman’s apologetic statement, expressing anger over what he considered to be a “cop-out” apology. “It’s ‘not reflective of who I am’ — it’s that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off,” Oliver said during the panel. “It is reflective of who you were. If you’ve given no evidence to show it didn’t [happen] then there was a period of time for a while when you were a creeper around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘It wasn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”
Becoming defensive, Hoffman assured Oliver that he didn’t believe he’d done anything wrong. Despite an attempt to steer the conversation elsewhere, Hoffman continued to be on the defense over the allegations, asking Oliver if he believed they were true, to which the late-night host replied, “Yes, because there’s no point in [an accuser] lying.”
Oliver broke his silence about the confrontation Tuesday, admitting that he felt the exchange “failed,” because nothing was truly accomplished. “The questions weren’t particularly remarkable, but his answers were — not great. That was the point of it. But it didn’t really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad,” he said.
Feeling gratitude for Oliver coming to their collective defense, Hunter posted a letter via her Twitter account, praising the late-night host for confronting the sensitive topic. Along with Hunter, the letter was signed by Hoffman accusers Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, Kathryn Rossetter, Melissa Kester and Cori Thomas. Two others also contributed to the letter, but chose to remain anonymous.
“We want to thank you for confronting Dustin Hoffman. While the questions you asked may not have led to the constructive conversation you hoped for, the fact that you asked them at all is what matters most,” the women wrote. They also emphasize that while men listen and believe women when they “recount” their experiences with sexual assault and harassment, “few men put themselves at risk” to influence change, as Oliver did.
“Few men put themselves at risk — socially or professionally — to have uncomfortable situations with other men,” the letter reads. “Women can continue to tell our stories, but ultimately, change will depend on men reflecting on their own behavior and challenging other men to do the same.”
Thank you @iamjohnoliver for confronting Dustin Hoffman. While the questions you asked may not have led to the constructive conversation you hoped for, the fact that you asked them at all is what matters most. @nykass @corithyme @MelissaKester + 3 others pic.twitter.com/WeenZP5jck
— Anna Graham Hunter (@annaghunter) December 27, 2017
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