CBS secretly reached a $9.5 million settlement with actress Eliza Dushku to keep her quiet about her complaints of sexual harassment by one of the network’s leading actors, Michael Weatherly, according to a New York Times report published Thursday.
The harassment reportedly occurred while Dushku, 37, was contracted to appear in three episodes of the network’s prime-time show “Bull,” in which Weatherly plays the lead role. There were also plans for Dushku to continue working on the show as a regular cast member, according to the draft of an investigators’ report obtained by the Times.
The actress told investigators looking into misconduct at CBS that Weatherly, who rose to fame starring in the network’s hit drama “NCIS,” made inappropriate comments to her in front of cast and crew members.
The alleged harassment included Weatherly making a remark about her legs, saying he wanted to bend her over his leg and spank her and suggesting he wanted to have a threesome with Dushku.
Dushku confronted Weatherly about his behavior, according to the Times. Weatherly then sent a text message to CBS Television Studios President David Stapf. Later, Dushku was written out of “Bull,” which the actress believes was done in retaliation for speaking out about the harassment.
Through mediation, Dushku and the network reached a secret settlement of $9.5 million in January. The amount was what she would’ve been paid if she stayed on the show for four seasons, according to the Times.
Details of the confidential settlement were revealed during an investigation into allegations of forced oral sex and unwanted groping by former CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves. That investigation also looked into misconduct across the network.
She told investigators her story, apparently for the first time, after the settlement was reached.
“You’re all I have at this point,” she said, according to the Times. “My story is true, and it’s really affected me, and I can’t talk about it.”
Weatherly apologized to Dushku in a statement to the Times, saying he was “mortified” that his jokes and humor offended her.
“After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate, and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza,” he said.
Dushku has appeared in hit shows including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Dollhouse.”
Dushku spoke out amid the Me Too movement when she revealed that a stuntman coordinator molested her when she was 12 and working on the 1994 thriller “True Lies.”
Also emerging during the Me Too movement is CBS’ history of alleged harassment. In addition to Moonves’ ousting, former CBS News host Charlie Rose was fired from the network after more than three dozen women accused him of sexual assault. CBS also terminated former “60 Minutes” producer Jeff Fager after a New Yorker report accused him of threatening a CBS reporter looking into sexual assault claims.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.