On Sunday (Jan. 14), Eliza Dushku’s former agent, JoAnne Colonna, and close friend, Peter Conti, issued statements supporting the actress’ claims that she was sexually assaulted by stunt coordinator Joel Kramer while filming the Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie True Lies in the mid-90s.
In Dushku’s Jan. 13 Facebook post about the incident, she referred to a “tough adult female friend” whom she turned to for help. Deadline confirmed that that individual was Colonna, who served as Dushku’s agent for 15 years.
Colonna told the entertainment outlet that she was concerned about improper behavior on the True Lies set long before Dushku confided in her, and she contacted Rae Sanchini, an executive producer on the film, in hopes that she would intervene.
“I’d called Rae multiple times because there was such inappropriateness going on on the set,” Colonna said. “There was sexual talk to and at [Eliza on] various occasions.”
Colonna also said that Dushku was a “very feisty, precocious 12-year-old, a tomboy,” which may have led the actress to think she was just “one of the boys” on set. However, Colonna, who is now a manager, feared that the set was inappropriate for her young client. She hoped that Sanchini would step in to protect Dushku, both because she was a woman and because she was close to True Lies director James Cameron.
However, despite Sanchini’s promise to “look into it,” Colonna said that “nobody really did anything.”
In fact, Colonna said that when she asked casting director Mali Finn, who passed away in 2007, whether she should call someone about Dushku’s safety on the set, Finn told her to “be careful.”
The meaning of Finn’s warning was clear to Colonna.
“I’ve read all the stories about Mira Sorvino, Ashley Judd,” she said. “There is a reason why nobody comes forward: everyone was so afraid that they would get blacklisted and fired.”
Meanwhile, a longtime friend of Eliza Dushku’s, college professor Peter Conti, also told Deadline that he could confirm the actress was assaulted by Kramer.
According to Conti, Dushku told him about the incident shortly after it happened.
“She was really, really upset,” he said. “She said it was a bad situation.”
Conti also said that Dushku asked him not to confront Kramer about the assault because he was the stunt coordinator and her safety depended on him.
“She said she was afraid,” Conti said.
According to Dushku’s Facebook post outlining her experiences with Kramer, her fears were well-founded. She claimed that, after Kramer assaulted her, he also allowed her to be injured during a dangerous stunt sequence in the film, leaving her with broken ribs.
In addition to Colonna and Conti, the actress’ mother and her legal guardian on the True Lies set have backed up her claims.
In an interview with The Wrap, Kramer vigorously denied Dushku’s accusations.