Second woman accuses Dustin Hoffman of sexual harassment

Ben Arnold
Contributor

A second woman has come forward accusing Dustin Hoffman of sexual harassment.

Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, the producer of the TV series ‘Genius’, was a playwright at the time, and went for two meetings to discuss her work with Hoffman and Murray Schisgal, the screenwriter of ‘Tootsie’, in 1991.

Speaking to Variety, she says that she thought she was going to discuss turning a play she had written into a feature film.

However, she says that instead, Hoffman propositioned her, and then tried to persuade her to accompany him to a shop inside a nearby hotel where he said he wanted to buy clothes.

“It was a huge thing,” she said of the first meeting, believing it to be her big break.

Riss Gatsiounis, who was in her 20s (Hoffman was 53), says that Schisgal began asking her whether she had a boyfriend or a husband.

“Dustin Hoffman was playfully like, ‘Murray, shut up. Don’t you know you can’t talk to women that way anymore? Times are changing,’” she said.

She says that it was suggested she go away and rework her stage play ‘A Darker Purpose’ as a feature film script, and another meeting was scheduled some weeks later.

But on arriving for the second meeting, she did not get to discuss her further work.

“I go in, and this time it’s, like, Dustin Hoffman’s really different,” she said. “He says, ‘Before you start, let me ask you one question, Wendy — have you ever been intimate with a man over 40?’”

She says she laughed off the remark, but then she added: “I’ll never forget — he moves back, he opens his arms, and he says, ‘It would be a whole new body to explore.’”

“I’m trying to go back to my pitch, and I’m trying to talk about my play. Then Dustin Hoffman gets up and he says he has to do some clothing shopping at a nearby hotel, and did I want to come along? He’s like, ‘Come on, come to this nearby hotel.’

“I’m just completely flustered. I don’t know what to make of this whole thing. And Murray’s like, ‘You can go! It’s okay, go! Go!’”

She declined the offer, however, at which point Hoffman left the meeting.

“And Dustin Hoffman finally leaves, because I’m saying I don’t want to go to the hotel,” Riss Gatsiounis says.

“And then Murray Schisgal says, ‘Look, we’re not really interested in your play, because it’s too film noir-ish.’ And that was it.”

She said that following the rebuke, she was ‘close to tears’.

“The whole thing was just a source of torment for me,” she went on. “I was just this writer and he had been my hero, and it stayed with me for a long time.

“It was one voice in my head saying, ‘I was such an idiot. I should have just gone.’ And the other voice in my head saying, ‘Well, clearly he just wasn’t interested [in the play]. Why don’t you just realize he just wasn’t interested?’”

Hoffman declined to comment on the matter, but in a statement Schisgal told Variety: “Dustin Hoffman and I took many meetings with writers and playwrights over many years. I have no recollection of this meeting or of any of the behavior or actions described.”

It follows news from The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week that Hoffman assaulted and harassed 17-year-old production assistant Anna Graham Hunter when she was working with him on ‘Death of a Salesman’ in 1985.

Hoffman has since apologised.

“I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation,” he said in a statement.

“I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.”

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