DENIAL

Michael Douglas Denies Masturbating in Front of Female Employee

The actor tells industry-boosting website Deadline that allegations of sexual harassment against him are completely false. Only, the allegations have yet to be published.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

Two-time Oscar winner Michael Douglas has come forward to preemptively defend himself against an allegation that he masturbated in front of a female employee 30 years ago.

Having been advised that The Hollywood Reporter or Variety might possibly publish allegations by the former employee, Douglas gave an interview to the industry-boosting website Deadline in which he categorically refuted the as-yet unpublished allegations, which Deadline strangely characterized as “tawdry,” saying he “felt the need to get ahead of” the story and that it was a “cautionary tale.”

Douglas says that in December, “I got a message from my attorney that The Hollywood Reporter wanted to do a story about an employee that worked for me approximately 32 years ago [who had claimed] that I masturbated in front of her… I don’t know where to begin. This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever.”

The Wall Street star, who has spent years battling rumors of sex addiction in spite of his decade-long marriage to the actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, claims that after the holidays he was contacted again by The Hollywood Reporter and told they were going to run with the story because they feared getting “scooped.”

It’s really hard to conceive that I have to defend myself against a situation that is 32 years ago, and it was not what they are saying it was...
Michael Douglas

Deadline, which is noted in the industry for pleading the case of powerful Hollywood interests, ran Douglas’s comments at length and lobbed only softball questions.

While some will sympathize with Douglas’s plight—“It’s really hard to conceive that I have to defend myself against a situation that is 32 years ago, and it was not what they are saying it was,” Douglas says—and his account throws up important questions about how publications should parse and corroborate accusers’ accounts of sexual misconduct before publication, it’s curious to see a news site run a public defense of a powerful celebrity before any allegation has been publicly made.

Deadline also published Douglas’s claims that the woman “is a blogger… she has mentioned my name sometimes in her blogs… It leads me to believe she either has or is trying to get a book deal.”

Last year, in the wake of the disturbing Harvey Weinstein revelations, Deadline ran a totally uncritical interview with Matt Damon, in which he said he “never saw” any evidence of Harvey Weinstein sexually harassing actresses, again without any real attempt to challenge him. (Damon later admitted he knew that Weinstein had harassed Gwyneth Paltrow, the ex of his best pal Ben Affleck.)

Douglas says that the allegations are “extremely painful” and that his kids are “really upset, have to go to school worrying this is going to be in some article about me, being a sexual harasser. They’re scared and very uncomfortable.”

He said his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, “has been very supportive.”

Douglas added: “ I support the #metoo movement with all my heart. I have always supported women, along the way. This is the kind of step that can set that movement back. Being accused, without a chance [to defend yourself] in court. To not even really have the information in front of you, to be able to argue or defend yourself. There is no due process, no chance of seeing evidence in front of me from my accuser. It worries me… I’d confess to anything I thought I was responsible for. And it was most certainly not masturbating in front of this woman.”