Even before actor and producer Michael Douglas was publicly accused of sexually harassing the woman who ran the New York office of his production company, and masturbating in front of her, Douglas was already issuing preemptive denials and attacks on his accuser’s character.
In a case that The Hollywood Reporter editorial director Matthew Belloni described as a prime example of “the media’s responsibility and challenge in the post-Weinstein era,” Douglas swifty went on the offensive after Belloni and THR deputy editorial director Alison Brower spoke with Douglas about disturbing allegations against him from well-known journalist and author Susan Braudy, who helped run Douglas’ production company, Stonebridge Productions, in the late ‘80s. Douglas spoke with Belloni off the record, issued a brief written statement of denial, and then gave Deadline a phone interview before Belloni could publish Braudy’s claims of harassment. Without giving Braudy’s name, Douglas dismissed her allegations as “a complete lie,” claimed that she was “disgruntled her career didn’t go the way she hoped and she is holding this grudge,” and even insinuated that THR was “exploiting” the #MeToo movement.
According to Braudy, Douglas constantly made crude sexual remarks to her and about her while she was working for him. His constant comments about her body, she said, prompted her to begin “wearing long, loose layers of black.” But the most shocking incident, she said, occured when Douglas abruptly slid out of his chair and onto the floor while they were having a script meeting about an E.T.-like character at his apartment.
“Michael unzipped his chinos and I registered something amiss,” Braudy recalled. “Still complimenting my additions to our E.T. imitation, his voice lowered at least half an octave. I peered at him and saw he’d inserted both hands into his unzipped pants. I realized to my horror that he was rubbing his private parts. Within seconds his voice cracked and it appeared to me he’d had an orgasm.” Shocked, Braudy said she fled Douglas’ apartment and jogged the 13 blocks home in tears. She said their working relationship was never the same after that. He pressured her to sign a confidentiality agreement for six months, she said, before ultimately firing her after it became clear she wouldn’t comply.
Braudy’s story was corroborated by detailed written notes and files she kept from her time working for Douglas and three people she told about her experience, including two well-known authors, who backed her up publicly. And Braudy, for one, told Bellini that Douglas’ response to her allegations came as no surprise — and even helped to explain why “it’s taken 30 years and a movement for me to gather my courage.”
Watch footage from Braudy’s first televised interview on NBC’s Today show below.
Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.