Yesterday over on Uproxx, I took up the sexual harassment case against Fred Savage back during his run on The Wonder Years. Why? Because it was one of those things that always stuck with me, because 20 years ago, the unchecked rumors were out of control and it grew into something of an urban legend: That Fred Savage had harassed Danica McKellar or, worse, had inappropriately touched Becky Slater (played by Danica’s sister, Crystal McKellar). It was the rumors that had stuck with me, and not the actual case itself, which was a harassment suit brought by a terminated costume designer against Savage and co-stars Jason Hervey and Dan Lauria for making inappropriate sexual comments (the case was dismissed, and according to Savage, he was exonerated on all charges, the most egregious of which was that 16-year-old Savage had propositioned the 32 year old costume designer).
Likewise, there are certain people — for better or worse — whose well publicized sex scandals I remember, though I never recall the resolutions, mostly because the resolutions were not publicized.
Take for instance, director David O. Russell, who makes award-worthy films with Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, and Brad Cooper (including this year’s Oscar nominee, American Hustle). Remember the weekend he was accused of groping 19-year-old Nicole Peloquin, the daughter of his adopted sister? Nicole was undergoing gender reassignment, and during a visit to the gym, apparently Russell groped Peloquin’s breasts because he was curious about how the hormones had affected them. This made Nicole uncomfortable. After the incident, she called the police to report it.
What most people never heard, however, is that the police investigated the matter and never filed any charges against Russell (although feeling up one’s niece — which Russell admitted, to, saying that it was consensual — is still a very creepy act, even if it was because he was simply curious).
Or what about those sexual harassment charges brought against John Travolta by a series of male massage therapists. They threatened Travolta with a lawsuits for allegedly, among other acts, touching himself inappropriately and giving himself a happy ending in front of the masseurs? What happened there? Well, we don’t actually know the details, except that Travolta’s insurers paid $84,000 in connection with those sexual harassment claims, which may have gone to the lawyers or may have gone to the accusers to drop the charges. What we do know is that the charges were ultimately dropped and dismissed.
What about the lewd conduct charges brought against Fred Willard, who was found allegedly masturbating in a movie theater? Those charges were also dropped after Willard completed a court-ordered sex education course, which I’m sure was very informative for a 73 year old.
Britney Spears was also sued for sexual harassment by a bodyguard in 2010 after she was accused of walking around in the nude, flashing the bodyguard, and exposing her genitals to him. It allegedly got so bad that the bodyguard had to quit. How was that resolved? After a two-year legal battle, Spears — still maintaining her innocence — cut a check to make the case go away.
Remember Tawny Kitaen? The star of the Whitesnake video, “Here I Go Again,” who was arrested and charged for beating up her husband, former MLB pitcher Chuck Finley, with her fists and high-heeled shoes? Yeah, those charges were also dropped after Kitaen initially pleaded guilty and underwent counseling. However, the judge in the case held up the dismissal until Kitaen also wrote an apology letter after she went on Howard Stern’s show and complained that she was forced to plead guilty. After the apology letter, the charges were dismissed.