Anna Graham Hunter accused Dustin Hoffman of assault, and she explained just how hard it was to get her story heard
On November 1st, The Hollywood Reporter published a guest column by writer Anna Graham Hunter in which Hunter accused Dustin Hoffman of sexual assault. Hunter detailed how she met Hoffman while in New York City. She was interning as a production assistant on the Death of a Salesman TV film when she was 17. In her allegations, Hunter said Hoffman was “openly flirtatious” with her, asking for a foot massage, groping her bum, and talking about sex to her.
“One morning I went to his dressing room to take his breakfast order; he looked at me and grinned, taking his time. Then he said, ‘I’ll have a hard-boiled egg…and a soft-boiled clitoris,’” Hunter recalled. Seriously? Talk about gross. She said Hoffman’s entourage found the exchange to be hilarious. But she was so shocked that she left, speechless, and cried in the bathroom.
Anna kept quiet about Hoffman’s alleged sexual harassment until recently, and has revealed that even getting her story heard was an uphill battle. In an op-ed for the LA Times, she outlined the entire process she went through to have her story told. After the news about Harvey Weinstein broke, the writer said she emailed seven journalists about Hoffman, thinking that at least one of them would have heard from other accusers.
But to her surprise, the only journalist to return her call hadn’t heard anything about Hoffman’s sexual misconduct. Anna realize if she wanted her story told, she would have to find the backup sources herself.
So Anna Graham Hunter decided to push to share her own account.
"While many [of his accusers] wanted Hoffman outed, most decided not to speak to the reporter at all, much less on the record," she said. "I decided to write an essay focused only on my personal experience, which I pitched to six outlets. I heard back from none. Eventually, Janice Min, whom I’d contacted on Twitter, connected me with the editor of The Hollywood Reporter. Even with documentation and a witness corroborating the details, it took almost two weeks of fact-checking and legal review before THR published the story."
According to Hunter, there are few reasons, we will never know all the stories of ugliness at the hands of well-known men. She wrote three points.
- “Most victims don’t want to talk about their humiliating experiences, even off the record. Building a story requires trust, and that trust is precarious.”
- “Publications have high standards for reporting allegations. If there are more stories of sexual harassment now than ever before, it is because of a shift in focus and not a drop in standards.”
- “Even with that shift in focus, news outlets are still pulled in multiple directions. A famous person accused of harassment, enough sources and a willing reporter are not always enough; sometimes a story needs someone pushing to make it happen.”
Sharing your story of sexual assault isn’t easy.
Emotionally, it can be hard. And with all of the red tape and procedures that come with going on the record with a publication, it becomes even more complicated. One of the reasons Anna decided to shed light on the project is because of the men who are scared of being falsely accused of assault. When a friend of hers expressed such a fear, she had the perfect response.
"If you had any idea how hard it is to get these stories published, you wouldn’t be worried about your career."
It’s the unfortunate truth, but we’re so inspired by the many brave women who found the strength to share their stories. You can read Anna’s whole op-ed on the LA Times website.