In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, published today, actress Eliza Dushku details the sexual harassment and bullying she experienced while working on the set of CBS’s Bull. Earlier this year, CBS paid Dushku a $9.5 million settlement after she was let go from the show after complaining about the on-set behavior of her co-star, Michael Weatherly — which included unwelcome remarks about her appearance, joking about taking her to his “rape van,” and comments about having a threesome.
The settlement was revealed last week, in a New York Times investigation which contained a particularly telling detail: A top CBS lawyer reportedly handed over footage of Dushku being harassed to investigators without realizing the tapes contained documentation of sexual harassment — instead, he apparently thought the tapes “would help the company’s cause” because they showed Dushku cursing. (Dushku had declined to comment to the Times because the terms of the settlement required her not to speak about what happened.)
“Weatherly sexually harassed and bullied me day-in and day-out and would have gotten away with it had he not been caught on tape, and had the CBS lawyers not inadvertently shared the tapes with my counsel, Barbara Robb,” Dushku writes in her Globe piece.
According to Dushku, the footage of her cursing on-set was not the only way the network and high ups at the show attempted to undermine her. When her representatives spoke to Bull’s writer and producer Glenn Gordon Cardon shortly after Dushku had been written off the show, Dushku writes that Cardon replied: “What does [Eliza] expect, she was in Maxim.”
During the settlement process, she also says that lawyers from CBS pulled a picture of her in a bikini, taken from her own Instagram, “as if this suggested I deserved or was not offended by the sexual harassment I experienced.”
In a statement to the Times, CBS said, “The allegations in Ms. Dushku’s claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done.” Weatherly told the outlet that he was “mortified to have offended” Dushku at the time of her initial complaint, adding, “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.”
The way Dushku characterizes CBS’s response seems in line with the network’s general approach to sexual-harassment claims. According to a recent report from the New York Times, when CBS hired two law firms to conduct an investigation into the multiple accusations of sexual misconduct brought against the company’s CEO Les Moonves, the investigative report found that “When faced with instances of wrongdoing, the company had a tendency to protect itself, at the expense of victims.”