The latest sexual harassment and misconduct scandal story has arrived on Vulture which has published a feature about acting veteran Richard Dreyfuss and his relationship with Los Angeles writer Jessica Teich over several years.
Teich claims the harassment was constant over a 2-3 year period in the mid-1980s when she was in her mid-20s and worked as a researcher and junior writer on a TV special passion project of Dreyfuss’s. He was twelve years older and married with a child along with being her boss, famous, rich, and at the time the youngest Best Actor Oscar winner.
The pair were working together developing the script and then, one day, Dreyfuss allegedly asked her to meet him in his trailer on the Los Angeles studio lot of a movie he was starring in at the time. She walked in, only to see him with an apparent exposed erection.
Dreyfuss reportedly never asked for her for oral sex or a handjob but she remembers the situation being unambiguous: “I remember my face being brought close to his penis. I can’t remember how my face got close to his penis, but I do remember that the idea was that I was going to give him a blow job. I didn’t, and I left.”
Teich says: “I kept moving because it was part of my job, and I knew he was, at the time, a very important guy, and certainly important to me. I trusted him. That’s what’s always so weird. I liked him. That’s part of why it’s so painful, because of the level of innocence one brings to these things. I felt responsible, that I must have indicated in some way that I was available for this.”
Teich says that, at the time, she told no one about the exposure incident, or what she claims were years of continual, overt, lewd comments and invitations from Dreyfuss and she couldn’t do her job without him unambiguously coming on to her: “He has that way of sidling up to you and saying things like, ‘I want to f–k you’. That was said all the time. He would constantly steer conversations to this yucky, insinuating thing and I would sort of try to pull us back to a place where we could actually get some work done.”
Teich added that she believes Dreyfuss would be very surprised if he heard that I felt completely coerced and disenfranchised: “I think he’d be like, ‘Oh no, I thought you really liked me.’ I don’t think he had any idea.” The now 70 year old Dreyfuss then responded to her claims with a long written piece saying:
“At the height of my fame in the late 1970s I became an asshole – the kind of performative masculine man my father had modeled for me to be. I lived by the motto, ‘If you don’t flirt, you die.’ And flirt I did. I flirted with all women, be they actresses, producers, or 80-year-old grandmothers. I even flirted with those who were out of bounds, like the wives of some of my best friends, which especially revolts me.
I disrespected myself, and I disrespected them, and ignored my own ethics, which I regret more deeply than I can express. During those years I was swept up in a world of celebrity and drugs – which are not excuses, just truths. Since then I have had to redefine what it means to be a man, and an ethical man. I think every man on Earth has or will have to grapple with this question. But I am not an assaulter.
I emphatically deny ever “exposing” myself to Jessica Teich, whom I have considered a friend for 30 years. I did flirt with her, and I remember trying to kiss Jessica as part of what I thought was a consensual seduction ritual that went on and on for many years. I am horrified and bewildered to discover that it wasn’t consensual. I didn’t get it. It makes me reassess every relationship I have ever thought was playful and mutual.”
The full piece, including reaction from Teich to Dreyfuss’ statement, is up at Vulture.