Dustin Hoffman—the man who has said of previous misconduct allegations against him that this is simply how members of a “family” treat one another on set—has been accused of sexually assaulting two women and exposing himself to a minor. The three women spoke to Variety about their experiences with Hoffman, with details that line up with multiple previous allegations against him.
Cori Thomas was a high school friend of Hoffman’s daughter Karina in 1980 and, as an aspiring actress, a huge fan of Hoffman. After an innocent Sunday spent with Hoffman and Karina in Manhattan, Hoffman suggested that they wait for Thomas’ parents to pick her up at his hotel, according to Thomas’ account. When Karina went home to the house of her mother (whom Hoffman was in the process of divorcing), Hoffman took a shower before returning to the room wearing nothing but a towel.
“He came out of the bathroom with a towel at first wrapped around him, which he dropped,” Thomas said. “He was standing there naked. I think I almost collapsed, actually. It was the first time I had ever seen a naked man. I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do. And he milked it. He milked the fact that he was naked. He stood there. He took his time.”
Hoffman put on a robe and asked Thomas, then 16, for a foot massage, which she then did. (Hoffman allegedly asked Anna Graham Hunter, a 17-year-old intern on the set of Death of a Salesman, to give him a massage on her first day.) While massaging his feet, Hoffman kept telling Thomas, “I’m naked. Do you want to see?” Thomas said she was only able to extricate herself from the situation when the phone rang, announcing her own mother’s arrival. Thomas said she was humiliated and unable to tell her mother until decades later. (Her mother recalled being concerned about her daughter having been alone with Hoffman.)
The other women, Melissa Kester and a woman who requested anonymity, told Variety about different incidents that occurred during the making of Ishtar, which was released in 1987. Kester, a recent college graduate at the time, was dating a man working on the music for the film. She met Hoffman multiple times at the studio where he was recording vocal tracks for the film. On the third such occasion, struggling with a take, Hoffman “jokingly” called for Kester to be sent into the booth with him.
“I’m standing there, and it’s kind of a small room, and he grabs me, so we’re both facing out so we’re both facing the people in the studio. I’m thinking that it’s kind of flirtatious and funny, like he’s holding onto me, because I’m going to help him sing better. I felt awkward. It’s a little weird. He’s hugging me while he’s singing. But ha ha ha, it’s all a joke. My boyfriend is right there.”
Hoffman continued with the take.
“And as he’s doing that, he literally just stuck his fingers down my pants,” Kester said. “He put his fingers inside me. And the thing I feel most bad about is I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there. I just froze in the situation like ‘Oh my god, what is happening?’ It’s shocking when that happens to you.”
The incident described is reminiscent of accusations by Kathryn Rossetter, Hoffman’s Death of a Salesman Broadway co-star, who said Hoffman would regularly grope her while she was waiting in the wings—on mic and unable to protest—before an entrance, one night even sticking his fingers inside her. Kester said she never told her boyfriend about the incident.
The third woman said Hoffman approached her while she was an extra in a nightclub scene in the film. He invited her back to the set for the final day of the shoot, insisting she stay for the wrap-up party. After offering her a ride home, Hoffman started touching her without her consent, and she froze.
“There are people inches from us,” she said. “And he just took his hand and stuck his fingers right up inside of me. I didn’t know what to do. He’s smiling at me. I was frozen. I was outside of my body.”
After the car dropped her off, Hoffman handed her $20 and told her to take a cab to his home, which she did, describing herself as being in “a kind of fugue state.” She then engaged in consensual sexual activity with Hoffman but says the incident in the car was nonconsensual.
Hoffman was not available to comment on the story, but his attorney wrote a letter to Variety calling the accusations “defamatory falsehoods.”