Michael Douglas took the rare step of responding to an accusation of sexual misconduct prior to the allegations being made public, and now The Hollywood Reporter has published the story of Susan Braudy’s alleged experiences while working for the “Wall Street” Oscar-winner during the late 1980s.
While Douglas has already denied Braudy’s allegations as “a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever,” Braudy tells a very different story to THR, which published an “Editor’s Column” by THR executive editor Matthew Belloni explaining the vigourous vetting that took place before the decision was made to publish her allegations.
In fact, Belloni reveals that THR determined that Braudy — a respected author and journalist — was able to back up her claims by “having kept detailed written account of her experience with Douglas based on notes and files she kept, a timeline of her employment (including pay stubs), and three people she told of her experience who were willing to back her publicly, including two well-known authors.” In addition, THR also points to “a 1993 letter from the California Women’s Law Center showing she inquired about remedies for sexual harassment in the workplace (read it here), though she says she was too intimidated to follow through with a complaint.”
In Braudy’s account, she alleges that Douglas, 73, made numerous inappropriate comments about her, writing that she “did my best to shrug off the cloud of sexual aggression that Michael reflexively emitted.”
One time, she writes, “one screenwriter I hired asked if he could bring his daughter to meet Michael. She asked Michael for a banana. Michael strode to me and said so that only I could hear, ‘Yes. And then you can tell your friends you licked Michael Douglas’ banana.’ I was appalled.”
In order to prevent Douglas from making comments about her body, Braudy writes that she “began wearing long, loose layers of black. He asked a producer, ‘Why does Susan dress like a pregnant nun?’ Another time I laughed loudly and he shouted to a group of agents, ‘Oh yeah, she’s a screamer! I bet she screams in the sack.’ I protested, ‘Please, don’t talk like that. It’s inappropriate.’ This made him laugh until he got pink splotches on his cheeks.”
Braudy’s most shocking allegation, however, is that Douglas once masturbated in front of her.
During a brainstorming meeting in early 1989, Braudy writes that “Michael unzipped his chinos and I registered something amiss… his voice lowered at least half an octave. I peered at him and saw he’d inserted both hands into his unzipped pants. I realized to my horror that he was rubbing his private parts. Within seconds his voice cracked and it appeared to me he’d had an orgasm.”
Upon realizing what had just happened, Braudy then closed her notebook and rushed to the door. “I said nothing,” she writes. “I was surprised I wasn’t falling to pieces even though I was humiliated. I realized he thought he could do anything he wanted because he was so much more powerful than I was. Michael ran barefoot after me to the elevator, zipping his fly and buckling his belt. ‘Hey, thank you, you’re good. You helped me, thank you, thank you.'”
That was, she continues, when she “vowed I’d never be alone with him again.”
In his earlier denial, Douglas addressed Braudy’s allegations. “I tried to think to reach back 30-plus years to try to remember,” he told THR. “I remembered this woman: sophisticated, intelligent, good sense of humour. A novelist, who has written books and published novels and was an active feminist, and proud of it. My head was reeling. I just couldn’t put this together. I’ve had no contact with her, in 30-plus years.”
As for the accusation that he masturbated in front of her, Douglas admitted he was “floored” by what he describes as a “complete lie” and a “fabrication,” adding: “I didn’t know what to say and I tried to digest it. The accusations are minimal, except of course for the idea of masturbating in front of her… I pride myself of being so supportive of the women’s movement. My mother was an actress, and I myself married to an actress and have been supportive of this movement wholeheartedly, through all my years. I was forced to look over my past. I’ve had up to 20 female executives who worked at my company in different areas over the years. Over 20 producers I partnered with on pictures have been women. Not to mention all the actresses I’ve worked with and the hundreds of performers. How am I, in a 50-year career in this industry, dealing with an employee 33 years ago who perhaps is disgruntled that I let her go, even though I have never heard from her in 32 years? And a legitimate trade publication is going to try and print this story? There is no corroboration, just that they found out somebody else might run the story.”
Douglas continued: “There is no evidence. This would not be presented in a court of law. This is way past the statute of limitations. I can only imagine this has come up to hurt someone, or to benefit someone in a book deal so they can write a chapter on me? I find this whole thing really irresponsible and it hurts people who are supportive of this movement and who believe in it… I hope this movement continues to grow, but that there is care shown in who is accused and how the accusation is handled.”