A Statement Regarding Eliza Dushku’s Allegations
On January 13, 2018 Eliza Dushku posted a statement on Facebook accusing me of sexual misconduct while working on the film “True Lies” in 1993. The media picked up on the story and in a single day my reality was altered forever. No one was interested in the truth. There are no words to describe how traumatizing, soul crushing and frightening a false accusation like this can be, not only to me but to my entire family. Eliza’s carefully constructed lie has become an ongoing assault on my entire life and I will never be rid of the stain from the accusation. I was bombarded by calls from the media, hate mail, and even death threats. Thankfully, I also received calls from friends and co-workers who had information and proof of my innocence, completely contrary to Eliza’s claim.
The media and the world seemed un-interested in the truth and no one wanted to hear from any of the people who were there and knew what really happened. The reporters who contacted me took the names and numbers of these people, but NONE of the reporters called any of my witnesses. Eliza, however, seemed to benefit from the attention. Again, I was blind-sided by a series of untruthful allegations made by Eliza Dushku on Facebook. I believe that she made these false allegations for her own benefit and financial gain by using the growing #MeToo movement as her platform.
Please read my letter of statement that will provide a full accounting along with just some of the letters of witness I sent out to over 240 work collogues and friends on 11/8/18, all prior to learning of her settlement with CBS that hit the media around 12/13/18. Many directors, producers and colleagues said to me after reading my statement and witness letters, “You need to get this out to the media.”
At the time of Eliza’s false statement on 1/13/18 many of the media outlets who contacted me were given the names and contact numbers of my witnesses but injudiciously choose not to contact any of them. Any possibility of being allowed the same wide public forum to disprove Eliza’s statements had been denied me instantly and without conscience. I’m certain that any statement debunking her story was not as sensational as her fabricated allegations. When financial gain is the objective, truth is often given no credence.
The media grabbed her fabricated story and spread it like wild fire, in turn ruining my reputation, hurting my family and friends, all without any evidence and no indication of remorse from her. I have had to endure numerous threats on my life, as did some friends who spoke up for me. I have had to endure other spurious allegations from people who wanted to jump on the band wagon, some of those lies were added to the story to validate the first lie. A reporter recently disclosed to me that he nearly printed one of those lies but decided to investigate instead. That accuser then had to admit that their story was also a lie. I continued to ask myself, why?
On December 13th, 2018 a story involving Eliza hit the media. Her contract on “Bull” was not renewed after 3 episodes in 2017 and she had filed a retaliation lawsuit. I suddenly felt like there was a lot more motivating Eliza’s accusation than I first believed. I believe Eliza used her false allegations against me at the height of the #MeToo movement for her own monetary gain, to the tune of a $9.5 million settlement from CBS. Again, I found out through a media reporter that sometime during the month of January 2018 she received her 9.5 million dollars. The same month she hit me with her false Facebook allegations. I believe that I was used as a pawn by Eliza to show CBS that all she had to do was post one salacious statement on social media to effectively take a man down. I can only surmise that it worked, because shortly after her false allegations about me hit the news I believe CBS quickly and quietly settled her case in a closed-door deal that was never meant to hit the media.
All I ask is a few minutes of your time to read my entire statement as well as the letters of witness.
This letter is my effort to share the truth for those who still respect it. I believe Eliza chose to create this drama to gain sympathy and attention in order to further her career. I feel that it is well within her demeanor to choose the height of the #MeToo movement to try to capitalize and profit from it.
“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on it’s shoes.” – Mark Twain
This is the question every falsely accused person asks and will probably never truly know the answer to. I can only guess. I know that I am high profile enough for her story to get attention, but without enough power or resources to defend myself in the media or a court of law or affect her ability to work in film and TV. I was an easy target for her. During the filming of “True Lies” my stunt team and myself always treated Eliza like family.
The Alleged Incident
While filming day exteriors in Miami the stunt team was usually done with work in the early afternoon, about 3:30. We were filming the mockup Harrier jet on top of the Brickle Building downtown. After wrap the stunt team and myself would usually head back to the hotel for a swim, dinner, and a workout at the gym. Sushi was most often the meal of choice. Eliza repeatedly badgered us about wanting to swim and have sushi with us because she said she was bored in the evenings and had nothing to do. I finally relented and told her mother that she could bring her over to the hotel after work for swimming and sushi with the stunt team. Eliza came over, swam with several of us, joined us for sushi, and right after dinner she was driven home by Jay Amore and me around dusk. That is all that happened.
Eliza’s statement elaborates, in amazing detail, about my hotel room, what she was wearing, the movie I put on TV, how I rubbed all over her until I “finished,” and the taxi driver scenario she created about whom she stated (in the rearview mirror) “My eyes never left the driver’s eyes during that long ride over a Miami bridge.” All details I believe were created in an attempt to make her story seem more believable. Psychiatrists, forensic psychologists, detectives, retired police officers, lawyers & other professionals who have read her scripted statement all said the same thing: people add excessive details to a story to make their lie more believable. I’ve also been told by some professionals in the field of psychology that a person who has been an alcoholic and drug abuser for decades has created a life based on lies in order to cover addictions and behaviors.
The Real Facts
There were several stunt people at the pool and at dinner, I was never alone with Eliza. On the ride back to her hotel she rode in the front passenger seat while I sat in the back seat and Jay Amore drove. Jay can and will authenticate this. Jay’s signed letter of witness is attached.
Eliza added additional details to her statement intended to portray me as a predator who put her life in danger. This could not be farther from the truth. In order to further paint me as an abuser Eliza stated, “My life was literally in his hands: he hung me in the open air, from a tower crane, atop an office tower, 25+ stories high”. To be clear, Eliza’s stunt double, Kim Zimmerman, hung 25+ stories high in the open air. It would be unconscionable for a professional stunt coordinator to put an untrained actor, let alone a child actor in that position. Eliza’s work was done at the most 20 feet in the air over port-o-pits (Fall Pads) and box fall safety catchers, she was harnessed to a cable system that would sustain a straight pull of 7400 pounds, a side pull of 2800 pounds, she was never over the city, only the roof portion of the Brickle building. Every precaution was put into place to ensure her safety. James Cameron, the studio safety officers, and I all approved of the safety precautions we had for Eliza, Arnold, and our entire stunt crew. She was “NEVER” put into a dangerous situation that would harm her.
Eliza states that soon after the alleged incident, a “Tough adult female friend” confronted me on the set one day and that same day I “intentionally” injured her on the Harrier jet rig, putting her in the hospital with broken ribs. This is pure fabrication. Her female friend (Later identified as JoAnne Colonna) never confronted me and I absolutely did not take any action that could or did injure Eliza. I do recall at one point in Los Angeles Eliza came up to me with a production assistant and said she somehow bruised herself and was asking for a small, thin body pad to put under her harness strap. I distinctly remember asking her what happened, she said ‘I don’t know but I must have rolled over something, perhaps the cable or something.’ She lifted her shirt slightly and she did have a small bruise on her bottom rib, the bruise was on her left side just above her harness waist strap. I made sure we get her to the emergency room for X-rays to be sure nothing is cracked or broken. I would do this for anyone who is bruised or takes a hard knock during any scene. I am adamant that a person gets appropriate medical attention for an injury no matter how seemingly small. This protects the actor, the production, and the crew. Eliza did not break any ribs, she only had a small bruise. She was back working on the set the next day or so. Anyone who’s ever broken ribs, as she stated she did, knows the extreme pain it causes even just to breathe, let alone cough or sneeze. I’ve broken, cracked and separated ribs and it’s a painful 6-8 week heal up. There are production reports on any injury no matter how small or severe. I should add that X-rays taken on Eliza’s ribs today would show if there were ever any breaks or fractures to the bone even after 25+ years.
To be clear, no stunt person nor I were ever in charge of any parts whatsoever of the movements or any operation of the mock up jet motion base machine. Our special effects team were in complete control and they are/were the best in the business. All the movement on that machine for any rehearsals, camera rehearsals or filming was handled by the special effects team. The stunt team’s only responsibility was to make sure any cast or stunt persons that rode on or in the mock up jet were harnessed as well as locked in by a safety leash cable that was rated above 2800 pounds of tension of pull. The mock up jet and motion base were set up at the Synchro Hanger at Van Nuys airport for the green screen visual effects shots. Eliza, by this time in the production, had at the very least a minimum of 20-25 hours harnessed to the nose of the mock up jet with all the rehearsals & filming we did in Miami. She was well versed in the movements and could ride it in her sleep. There were no sudden or jerky moves as all moves on the jet were well rehearsed by the stunt doubles prior to any new camera set up that James Cameron designed. There was no way I could have intentionally injured her.
I have attached a copy of a letter of reference from James Cameron to another director per my work as a Stunt Coordinator signed 3 years after True Lies. This reinforces my statement that I ensured that everything was as professional and safe as it could be. I would argue that if I was as dangerous and malicious as Eliza’s statement claims, James Cameron would never have given letters of reference as well as verbal recommendations to other directors on my behalf. There was absolutely no way I or anyone else could have purposely hurt her as she has claimed.
In her statement Eliza asks, “Why didn’t an adult on the set find his predatory advances strange?” In answer, because there was no such behavior from me. There are witnesses who can willingly verify this. She also stated that she had heard that “I had been Found out and forced to leave the business”. Another false allegation that in no way resembles reality.
Her Claim of a Confrontation at the Premiere
In subsequent media articles Eliza’s “Tough adult female friend”, JoAnne Colonna, spoke out to add credibility to Eliza’s story along with her longtime friend Peter Conti. Statements from both appeared in media stories. JoAnne claims to have come to the set the day after Eliza told her about the hotel room incident and confronted me, another inconsistency in the story. The bruise on Eliza’s rib occurred after the film crew returned to Hollywood, months after the swimming and sushi. JoAnne Colonna and Peter Conti both told a story to Deadline Hollywood about Conti confronting me at the “True Lies” premiere in Westwood. JoAnne said, “I thought he (Peter) was going to beat him up, we had to hold him back”, she noted that she got help from security to avoid physical confrontation.
“I was never at the True Lies premiere.”
The premiere in Westwood California was July 12, 1994. I was in Miami for 2 or 3 weeks working on a feature titled “Just Cause” as a stunt driver in a car chase sequence. The stunt coordinator, Chuck Picerni, can confirm this and Celeste Cooley-Mitchell can also confirm that I was not at the Westwood Premiere. This premiere confrontation story was seemingly intended to lend credence to Eliza’s story but only undermines the credibility of her witnesses.
Part of Celeste Mitchell-Cooley’s Witness Letter
And the true point of my letter is to show the inconsistency of Eliza’s alleged sexual misconduct claim and that of her so-called supporter, JoAnne Colonna. There was a mention in an article about this situation that someone named Peter Conti, a college professor and writer, still tried to confront Kramer at the True Lies premiere in Westwood. JoAnne Colonna, who was Eliza’s agent at the time, stated she was also at the Premiere and witnessed the alleged confrontation between Conti and Joel. Colonna also stated in an interview that “I thought he was going to beat him up, we had to hold him back,” JoAnne Colonna recalls of the incident, noting that she got help from security to avoid a physical confrontation. Well that is an interesting statement since that whole premiere encounter reported by JoAnne Colonna is a “True lie”. I know for a fact that Joel Kramer did not attend the True Lies Premiere because I was at that opening and attended the party afterwards. I remember wondering where Joel was because I knew he was so pivotal to the production of that movie. I even asked several cast members and friends of Arnold’s where was Joel? Since Joel wasn’t at the True Lies Premiere, I don’t know who JoAnne Colonna and Peter Conti confronted that night. Nonetheless, I feel confident that Joel is innocent of these charges. I will stake my reputation on it! 100 percent.
As my friend Celeste said so openly, “I am so disappointed with the high-profile people who know Joel well and have worked with him, some of them often, but have decided not to stand up for Joel regarding this matter. Instead, they have chosen to throw Joel under the bus instead of refuting the outrageously false claims against him made by Eliza Dushku (whose past is not very credible) to either save their own careers or reputations due to the #METOO movement. They all should be ashamed of themselves, but most of all Eliza for abusing this movement to make false claims for her own self-centered motives. I will not tolerant lies or any unfounded claims meant only to hurt and destroy someone’s career. In the end, The Truth is always revealed.”
Please read the entire signed letters of witness by Celeste Mitchell-Cooley and Chuck Picerni Jr.
It’s atrocious how a person, seemingly without remorse, can completely cripple the life of a person, his family and friends all for her own diabolical agendas. I have not previously shared the letters from the people who were witnesses to the actual truth as I would have never gotten any fair treatment from the media. Fair treatment doesn’t sell advertising and generate clicks. The biased treatment I have received from the media has exposed my family and me to vile hate speech and death threats which no one should ever have to endure. Thank you to the many friends who stuck up for me through social media and personal calls. Eliza’s actions on January 13th are extremely disturbing. My reputation as well as my lively-hood are in ruins because of her completely false allegations. I would not wish this on anyone. I still cannot fathom that I have had to endure this traumatic experience. There is no imaginable, nor justified reason to blindside someone with a completely fabricated, overly detailed, scripted allegation after 25+ years. There are always a few in any movement who, without conscience will take advantage. The #MeToo movement is no exception, unfortunately it pulls the focus away from those in real need of help. I have every right to stand up for myself. I appreciate the hundreds of friends who came out and stood up for me, and I am truly blessed to have you as friends and family. You have no idea how much this means to me! To my friends and co-workers who stuck up for me: your candor and backbone speak volumes. I respect you all!
The #MeToo movement is an important one, I support it, and I support those who have been mistreated by others in the film industry.