Just how seriously does the entertainment industry really take sexual harassment?
That’s the question being asked Monday after Hollywood union SAG found the actor Kip Pardue guilty of “serious misconduct” after allegations were made that he masturbated in front of a female co-star without her consent, but fined him just $6,000, did not release the information to the industry and gave him the option of reducing the fine by 50% if he takes a training course.
Industry insiders, such as writer Kim Masters, were quick to criticize the ruling as overly lenient.
Others, such as the director David Poland, struggled to understand why the ruling was veiled in secrecy (the ruling, which found Pardue “guilty of serious misconduct in violation” of the SAG constitution, would have remained secret had Scott not spoken out publicly).
The Rules of Attraction actor, 43, was accused of sexual harassment on the set of a pilot show in May last year by actress Sarah Scott, 35, who says he forced her to touch his penis during a sex scene and later masturbated in front of her in a dressing room.
No record of the decision would ever have been made public had Scott not shared it with the media.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Scott filed a police report soon after the alleged incident but then decided not to press criminal charges, instead lodging a formal complaint with the actors union, SAG-AFTRA, which has now found Pardue “guilty of serious misconduct” during a private hearing of its disciplinary committee, according to a letter Scott showed the paper.
After reporting of Scott’s allegations appeared in the media, another actress, Andrea Bogart, came forward claiming that Pardue also came to her dressing room and masturbated without consent.
Bogart said that she and Pardue were preparing to shoot a “pretty racy” foursome sex scene with Hank Azaria and Sherilyn Fenn, in which Bogart was wearing “pasties and fish-wire underwear.”
Pardue knocked on the door of her trailer and asked if he could come in.
“So he comes in and then out of left field, he starts talking about how crazy the scene is and unbuttoning his pants,” Bogart told the LA Times. “He pulls out his genitalia and starts rubbing himself. I remember just covering my face and being like, ‘What are you doing?’ I was embarrassed and in utter shock.”
Pardue’s lawyer denied to the LA Times that Pardue has ever engaged in non-consensual behavior.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel good about the punishment or not,” Scott told the LA Times.
“I would have liked to have seen a couple of years’ suspension, but this is a step in the right direction.
“What was the most important for me was that others who come forward in the future know that the union is willing to take these complaints seriously and create a space where they can be heard.”
SAG did not comment and lawyers for Pardue, who is a major character in the cast of Hulu’s superhero series “Runaways,” told the paper that he “never engaged in any nonconsensual behavior.”