This weekend, actress Eliza Dushku came forward about the abuse she experienced as a child actor. She penned an essay on her Facebook page, alleging that she was molested on the set on the action film True Lies at 12 years old by Joel Kramer, the film’s stunt coordinator. Kramer has denied the allegations, though he has been dropped by his talent agency, WPA.
Now, fellow actress Jamie Lee Curtis is speaking up for Dushku, in an essay for the HuffPost. Curtis played Dushku’s mother in the movie, and revealed that Dushku told her about the alleged abuse “a few years ago,” and discusses the working relationships she’d had with child actors.
“I was shocked and saddened then and still am today,” wrote Curtis. “Eliza’s story has now awakened us from our denial slumber to a new, horrific reality. The abuse of children.”
Curtis notes that even though child actors have chaperones and guardians on set, and there are strict regulations about how long they are able to work, “...yet sadly, as with any rules, these are often broken.”
She also writes that the relationship she shared with her child coworkers was a complicated one. “I have wrestled with my role as a mentor, colleague, surrogate, and friend, and each relationship is individual and unique. Are we really friends? Are we work mates? Children are not mature enough to recognize that subtle difference,” writes Curtis.
Ultimately, she shares our revulsion at what happened to Dushku. Curtis points to a workplace culture that has allowed abuse to occur: “All of us must take some responsibility that the loose and relaxed camaraderie that we share with our young performers has carried with it a misguided assumption that they are adults in an adult world, capable of making adult choices.”
Children, even working children, are still not able to process information the way adults do, and it’s up to adults to ensure their safety. That responsibility, even on a film set, is sacrosanct and comes before all else.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).