Three Women Accuse Actor Hoffman of Misconduct

Posted December 15, 2017 11:29 p.m. EST
Updated December 15, 2017 11:30 p.m. EST

Three more women have accused actor Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct, providing detailed allegations of encounters in a recording studio, in a station wagon and in a hotel room decades ago, according to interviews published Thursday in Variety.

The article quoted a letter to Variety’s owner Penske Media Corp., from Hoffman’s attorney, Mark A. Neubauer of Carlton Fields Jordan Burt, calling the accusations against the actor “defamatory falsehoods.”

A voicemail message left for Neubauer and an email to a representative were not returned.

Variety identified two of the women, and the third spoke anonymously about the encounters with the now 80-year-old actor.

One of them, Cori Thomas, told Variety that she was a 16-year-old friend of Hoffman’s daughter, Karina, and an aspiring actor when she met Hoffman in 1980. She said the three of them spent a Sunday walking around Manhattan. Then they all went to Hoffman’s hotel room to wait for Thomas’ parents to pick her up, she told Variety.

After Karina left, Hoffman took a shower and emerged with a towel wrapped around him, “which he dropped,” Thomas told Variety. “He was standing there naked. I think I almost collapsed, actually. It was the first time I had ever seen a naked man. I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do.”

She said Hoffman eventually put on a robe, sat on the bed, and asked her to massage his feet. She complied.

“I didn’t know what to do in the circumstance,” Thomas told Variety. “I didn’t know that I could say no, so I did it. And he kept telling me, ‘I’m naked. Do you want to see?’ ” Eventually the phone rang — it was her mother, who had arrived at the hotel to pick her up, she said.

Thomas, daughter of the Liberian ambassador to the U.N. at the time, said she did not tell her mother what had happened until decades later. She said she told close friends and a family member some years later.

In an email Friday, Thomas, a playwright, confirmed the Variety report. She wrote that she had always believed her experience with Hoffman was an isolated one.

“I realize now, that the reason this continued to happen to others, was because of my silence,” she wrote, “and I feel guilty about that but I hadn’t even processed how badly this shamed and hurt me. Like many others who have had similar experiences, I thought somehow I was to blame, but no more!”

Melissa Kester, another woman quoted in Variety, said she met Hoffman when he was working on the 1987 movie “Ishtar.” Kester was dating a man who worked on the music for the film, and one day she went to the studio where Hoffman was recording a vocal track.

As her boyfriend and an engineer were busy with technical adjustments, Hoffman said from inside the booth: “'Send Melissa in here. I’m bored,'” she told Variety.

He began to hug her while he was singing, she said, visible to the other men through a window only from the chest up.

“And as he’s doing that, he literally just stuck his fingers down my pants,” and groped her genitals, Kester said.

In an email Friday, Kester said the Variety account was accurate, and that she had been motivated to come forward to serve as a role model for her daughter.

A third woman, who was not identified, said she met Hoffman when she was given a nonspeaking part in “Ishtar” in a scene filmed at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York. Hoffman offered to give her a ride home after a party, and they climbed into the back seat of a full station wagon, where he groped her. She described later visiting his apartment in “a kind of fugue state” set off by her encounter with Hoffman and abuse she suffered as a child. They had sex.

Asked by Variety if she would describe the encounter in the station wagon as nonconsensual, she said “yes.” As for the encounter at the San Remo, she said, “I don’t know,” Variety reported.

The Hollywood Reporter also published similar accounts Thursday, including from Thomas, Kester and Kathryn Rossetter, an actress who said Hoffman groped her repeatedly while they were both in a Broadway production of “Death of a Salesman” in 1983.

The reports follow an essay for The Hollywood Reporter last month by Anna Graham Hunter, who said the actor groped her and used sexually explicit language in front of her during the making of the 1985 television film “Death of a Salesman,” when she was a 17-year-old production assistant.

The allegations come as a group of industry executives announced an initiative, the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, to address such abuse. The effort will be headed by Anita Hill, who brought harassment to the fore in 1991 during the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas.