Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Second Woman Accuses Dustin Hoffman of Sexual Harassment

Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman

*A second woman has come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Dustin Hoffman.

In an interview with Variety, “Genius” producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis said the Oscar winner propositioned her during a work meeting in 1991. She was in her 20s at the time, while Hoffman was 53.

Riss Gatsiounis said she met with Hoffman and screenwriter Murray Schisgal on two separate occasions to discuss adapting her play A Darker Purpose into a feature film.

According to Variety, a spokesperson for Hoffman declined to comment. Schisgal told the outlet in a statement: “Dustin Hoffman and I took many meetings with writers and playwrights over many years. I have no recollection of this meeting or of any of the behavior or actions described.”

During the first meeting, Riss Gatsiounis claims Schisgal asked her if she was romantically involved with anyone. “Dustin Hoffman was playfully like, ‘Murray, shut up. Don’t you know you can’t talk to women that way anymore? Times are changing,’” Riss Gatsiounis recalled.

But during their second meeting, Riss Gatsiounis claims Hoffman propositioned her.

“He says, ‘Before you start, let me ask you one question, Wendy — have you ever been intimate with a man over 40?’”

Riss Gatsiounis said she tried to laugh off the comment.

“I’ll never forget — he moves back, he opens his arms, and he says, ‘It would be a whole new body to explore,’” she said. “I’m trying to go back to my pitch, and I’m trying to talk about my play. Then Dustin Hoffman gets up and he says he has to do some clothing shopping at a nearby hotel, and did I want to come along? He’s like, ‘Come on, come to this nearby hotel.’”

Riss Gatsiounis said Schisgal, who was also present during the meeting, encouraged her to go with the actor.

“I’m just completely flustered,” Riss Gatsiounis said. “I don’t know what to make of this whole thing. And Murray’s like, ‘You can go! It’s okay, go! Go!’”

Riss Gatsiounis said she repeatedly declined his invitation.

“And Dustin Hoffman finally leaves, because I’m saying I don’t want to go to the hotel,” Riss Gatsiounis said. “And then Murray Schisgal says, ‘Look, we’re not really interested in your play, because it’s too film noir-ish.’ And that was it.”

The producer said she left the meeting “close to tears” and immediately called her agent Mary Meagher to tell her about the incident. “She said that she didn’t want me to think that it was something I had done,” Riss Gatsiounis said. “She had heard rumors about him for years.”

Though Meagher died in 2006, Variety spoke to two people close to Riss Gatsiounis who backed up the producer’s story.

At the time, Riss Gatsiounis said she struggled with the thought of possibly ruining her career, which led her to second guess her decision to reject Hoffman.

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