In a heartbreaking Facebook post this morning, Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Eliza Dushku accused True Lies stunt coordinator Joel Kramer of sexually assaulting her during the filming of that movie. Dushku was just 12 years old at the time, while Kramer, now 60, was 36. Dushku says that she believed Kramer had been “found out” and ostracized from Hollywood, but, in fact, he is still working on high-profile projects like Furious 7, Blade Runner 2049, and TV shows Westworld and Star Trek: Discovery, amongst many others.
Dushku’s Facebook post, which can be read in full here, must come with a trigger warning for its detailed description of the assault:
I remember, so clearly 25 years later, how Joel Kramer made me feel special, how he methodically built my and my parents’ trust, for months grooming me; exactly how he lured me to his Miami hotel room with a promise to my parent that he would take me for a swim at the stunt crew’s hotel pool and for my first sushi meal thereafter. I remember vividly how he methodically drew the shades and turned down the lights; how he cranked up the air-conditioning to what felt like freezing levels, where exactly he placed me on one of the two hotel room beds, what movie he put on the television (Coneheads); how he disappeared in the bathroom and emerged, naked, bearing nothing but a small hand towel held flimsy at his mid-section. I remember what I was wearing (my favorite white denim shorts, thankfully, secured enough for me to keep on). I remember how he laid me down on the bed, wrapped me with his gigantic writhing body, and rubbed all over me. He spoke these words: “You’re not going to sleep on me now sweetie, stop pretending you’re sleeping,” as he rubbed harder and faster against my catatonic body. When he was ‘finished’, he suggested, “I think we should be careful…,” [about telling anyone] he meant. I was 12, he was 36.
I remember how afterwards, the taxi driver stared at me in the rear view mirror when Joel Kramer put me on his lap in the backseat and clutched me and grew aroused again; and how my eyes never left the driver’s eyes during that long ride over a Miami bridge, back to my hotel and parent. I remember how Joel Kramer grew cold with me in the ensuing weeks, how everything felt different on the set.
Dushku says that soon after an older female friend confronted Kramer about the alleged assault, Dushku was injured in a stunt on the set, which she calls “no small coincidence,” breaking her ribs. Dushku describes Kramer as responsible for her safety while performing dangerous stunts, even after allegedly assaulting her in the hotel room. Dushku explained why she was moved to come forward now:
Why speak out now? I was 12, he was 36. It is incomprehensible. Why didn’t an adult on the set find his predatory advances strange — that over-the-top special attention he gave me. Fairly early on he nicknamed me “Jailbait” and brazenly called me by this name in a sick flirty way in front of others (at the time, I remember asking one of my older brothers what it meant). Sure, I’ve come to understand the terrible power dynamics that play into whistle-blowing by “subordinates” against persons in power, how difficult it can be for someone to speak up. But I was a child. Over the years I’ve really struggled as I’ve wondered how my life might have been different if someone, any one grown-up who witnessed his sick ways, had spoken up before he lured me to that hotel room.
Years ago, I had heard second hand that Joel Kramer was “found out” and forced to leave the business. I learned recently that in fact he still works at the top of the industry. And a few weeks ago, I found an internet photo of Joel Kramer hugging a young girl. That image has haunted me near nonstop since. I can no longer hide what happened.
Kramer called the allegations “absolutely not true” in a response to website Variety, adding that he thought she may have had a crush on him at the time. Calling the allegations “absurd,” Kramer said that a friend on the set told him Dushku was “always asking questions” about him and that he felt she needed to be handled “with kid gloves,” and added, “Who in their right mind would do something like that, when you’re a high-profile coordinator on a shoot like that with months left of shooting?”
“I did kiss her on the cheek once to say goodnight to her, gave her a hug,” Kramer told Variety. “We treated her like family, she was part of our crew.”