Seven women who have accused Dustin Hoffman of sexual harassment and/or abuse have signed an open letter thanking John Oliver for confronting the actor over his alleged misconduct during a panel in New York City on December 4. Oliver was moderating a discussion with Hoffman, Robert De Niro, director Barry Levinson, and producer Jane Rosenthal for the 20th anniversary of “Wag the Dog” when he pressured Hoffman into publicly addressing the allegations against him.
The open letter was posted on Twitter by Anna Graham Hunter, who was the first woman to come forward with an allegation against Hoffman. Hunter says the actor made sexually inappropriate comments towards her and groped her when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie “Death Of A Salesman.” The message is signed by Hunter, Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, Kathryn Rossetter, Melissa Kester, Cori Thomas, and two women who have remained anonymous.
“We want to thank you for confronting Dustin Hoffman,” the group wrote to Oliver. “While the questions you asked may not have led to the constructive conversation you hoped for, the fact that you asked them all is what matters most. Many men listen to and believe women when we recount our experiences of sexual harassment and assault. But few men put themselves at risk — socially or professionally — to have uncomfortable conversations with other men.”
The letter concludes: “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.”
During the December 4 panel, Oliver told Hoffman that the allegations against him were “hanging in the air.” The two engaged in an intense back and forth, with Oliver pressing Hoffman on the allegations and Hoffman firing back that Oliver was “making assumptions” about him. The actor said Oliver “put him on display” and “indicted him” without any evidence. “That’s not innocent until proven guilty,” Hoffman said.
While some praised Oliver for confronting Hoffman, others found it unprofessional to do so in a public setting. The late night host said during an interview on the “The Russell Howard Hour” that his questions were “unavoidable” and that he had to have a discussion with Hoffman about the allegations.
“It wasn’t ideal but it became such a big story — but it became about my questions rather than his answers,” Oliver said. “The questions weren’t particularly remarkable, but his answers were…not great.”
According to Oliver, the event’s organizers were aware that he would be questioning Hoffman on the allegations. He made sure to warn them that if he was chosen to moderate the panel he would be asking Hoffman the tough questions. Oliver said he even told organizers to go with someone else if they thought questioning Hoffman about sexual harassment would be problematic.
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