Michael Douglas fends off sexual harassment claim with preemptive interview
Michael Douglas has denied what he says is a forthcoming claim of sexual harassment against him in a new interview with Hollywood trade publication Deadline.
The veteran actor says The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline’s competitor, is pursuing a story about him in which a former employee claims Douglas masturbated in front of her, used improper language in her company, and prevented her from getting other work in the entertainment industry.
Douglas denies the allegation of a sexual nature and the claim of retaliation. But, he added, “I will fess up to colorful language.”
“I felt the need to get ahead of this,” he told Deadline.
Douglas says his accuser is a woman who worked in development at his company approximately 32 years ago and was fired “for the work she was doing.”
CNN does not know the identity of the woman.
“She was a lady who was involved in development at my company, and we just didn’t have a good development record in the time she was there, so I just moved on,” he said. “I never blackballed her. If people from the industry called me to ask about her, I would have been honest, but I never blackballed her.”
When contacted by CNN, a representative for Douglas had no additional comment at this time.
Douglas said he was approached by The Hollywood Reporter about its investigation in December, prior to the holidays.
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for The Hollywood Reporter told CNN the publication does not comment on “stories that may or may not be in the works.”
Douglas said he ultimately chose to preemptively talk about the sexual harassment claim, in hopes of limiting the story’s potential impact.
“I had the choice of waiting for a story to come out, one that will clearly get picked up by other newspapers and magazines, and then I have to sit there and try to defend myself. Or, try to share with the public, a little ahead of the story, my thoughts and concerns,” he said.
Douglas said he has “reason to believe that no one else has come forward” with a story about him.
“Again, I am sorry if I used coarse language with my friends. But this is really debilitating,” he said. “It can have a large effect on my career. And also, I think it really sends a message out.”