Eliza Dushku Describes Sexual Harassment On Bull Set

Testifying before a congressional committee, Eliza Dushku describes the sexual harassment she experienced on the set of the CBS series Bull.

Testifying before congress, actress Eliza Dushku described the sexual harassment she experienced on the set of the CBS series Bull. Dushku appeared in the final three episodes of the legal drama's first season as J.P. Nunnelly, with the character set to join the main cast for season 2. Despite well-developed plans for Dushku to be further folded into the show's main plot, she was fired after her initial guest appearances in season 1.

It later emerged that the actress was fired due to a complaint she'd made against lead star Michael Weatherly for making sexually suggestive comments about her and his generally toxic behavior on the set of Bull. It was reported in December 2018 that CBS had reached a confidential settlement with Dushku, which would pay her $9.5 million, her expected salary had she remained with the show as a regular cast member through four seasons as initially planned.

According to Deadline, Dushku testified to a congressional committee as part of a hearing titled "Silent: How Forced Arbitration Keeps Victims of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment in the Shadow." During her remarks, the Buffy alum told members of the House Judiciary Committee that she was able to break her silence about her experience on the Bull set because she'd received a subpoena to testify. Though she did not refer to Weatherly by name in her opening statement, Dushku noted that in her first week with Bull, she found herself as "the brunt of crude, sexualized and lewd verbal assaults." She stated that she experienced near-constant sexual harassment from her co-star, which went beyond anything she'd dealt with before in her 30-year career.

Dushku testified that Weatherly would refer to her as "legs," saying he would smell her and look at her leeringly. She revealed that off-script, in front of about 100 crew members, Weatherly once said that he'd take her "to his 'rape' van and use lube and long phallic things on me and take me over his knee and spank me like a little girl." Another time, he told her that "his sperm were powerful swimmers." Dushku also recounted that, while she filmed a courtroom monologue, Weatherly shouted that "he and his buddy wanted to have a threesome with me and began mock penis jousting while the camera was still rolling."

Dushku said she feared for what would happen to her job if she pushed back against Weatherly or took action against him, but says she did privately confront Weatherly and asked him to be her ally on-set and to tone down his sexual comments. In response, Weatherly noted that he grew up with sisters and claimed that "no one is more respectful of women than me." Dushku later learned that Weatherly complained about her "humor deficit" to the head of CBS Studios, saying he didn't want her on the show. Dushku was fired the next day.

Although she has spoken about some of the harassment she dealt with on Bull in the past to counter Weatherly's public claims, as part of an op-ed for The Boston Globe, Dushku testified that she was surprised to learn about her limited legal options upon being fired. The actress explained that the mandatory arbitration clause of her contract was essentially used to protect CBS and Weatherly, keeping details a secret and severely limiting what she could say publicly. Dushku stressed that many individuals who suffer harassment and abuse face these same limitations due to arbitration clauses.

More: What Eliza Dushku Has Done Since Buffy The Vampire Slayer Ended

Source: Deadline,  The Boston Globe

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