Cori Thomas was in high school when she says Dustin Hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room. Melissa Kester was a recent college graduate when Hoffman allegedly sexually assaulted her while recording audio for the film “Ishtar.” A third woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Hoffman assaulted her in the back of a station wagon and manipulated her into a subsequent sexual encounter that left her traumatized.
Speaking to Variety, the women described predatory incidents involving Hoffman that fit into a pattern of alleged behavior that has emerged in the wake of previous sexual-misconduct claims against the now 80-year-old actor.
Representatives for Hoffman did not make him available to provide comment for this story. In a letter to Variety’s owner Penske Media Corp., Hoffman’s attorney Mark A. Neubauer of Carlton Fields Jordan Burt called the accusations against the actor “defamatory falsehoods.”
Thomas was 16 years old and a high-school classmate of Hoffman’s daughter Karina at the United Nations International School in New York when she met the actor in 1980. An aspiring actor, she had spent a Sunday afternoon with Karina and Hoffman walking in Manhattan — visiting the Drama Bookshop, where, she said, Hoffman bought her a copy of Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story,” and eating dinner at Jim McMullin’s on the Upper East Side, where she had veal piccata for the first time. They also visited the San Remo on Central Park West, where Hoffman, in the midst of a divorce from his first wife, Anne Byrne, was buying an apartment. Hoffman showed Thomas and Karina the apartment, which was being renovated while Hoffman stayed at a hotel near the house that he and Byrne had shared.
“This was at first one of the greatest days of my life,” she said. “One of my idols was spending time with me and talking with me respectfully.”
Dustin Hoffman through the years
Dustin Hoffman through the years
American actor Dustin Hoffman with his wife Anne Byrne at the Red Cross Gala. Monte Carlo, 1960s (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
American actor Dustin Hoffman with two potted plants. (Photo by Terry O'Neill/Getty Images)
American actor Dustin Hoffman looking worried in the film Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? New York, 1971 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) American actor Dustin Hoffman. 12/25/1966
LOS ANGELES - CIRCA 1966: Actor Dustin Hoffman in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
US actor Dustin Hoffman poses with his wife Anne Byrne, in his swimming pool Hotel, 14 May 1975, during the Cannes International Film Festival.
In 1967 Dustin Hoffman became famous with his role in 'The Graduate' which brought his first Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe in 1968 . He received many awards, Golden Globes and among them two oscars as Best Actor for 'Kramer vs. Kramer' in 1980 and 'Rain Man' in 1989. (Photo credit should read /AFP/Getty Images)
US actor Dustin Hoffman poses in May 1975, during the Cannes International Film Festival. In 1967 Dustin Hoffman became famous with his role in 'The Graduate' which brought his first Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe in 1968 . He received many awards, Golden Globes and among them two oscars as Best Actor for 'Kramer vs. Kramer' in 1980 and 'Rain Man' in 1989. (Photo credit should read /AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 12,1968: Actor Dustin Hoffman poses with a Golden Globe award for Most Promising Newcomer - Male in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - MAY 07: Dustin Hoffman in Central Park on May 7, 1969 in New York City. (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
LONDON - MARCH 08: Dustin Hoffman during an press conference for the film 'Straw Dogs' on March 8, 1970 in London. (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
CALGARY - DECEMBER 23: LITTLE BIG MAN, theatrical movie originally released December 23, 1970. The film directed by Arthur Penn. Pictured, Dustin Hoffman (as Little Big Man), husband of Sunshine. Frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
CALGARY - DECEMBER 23: LITTLE BIG MAN, theatrical movie originally released December 23, 1970. The film directed by Arthur Penn. Pictured, Dustin Hoffman (as Jack Crabb, the Soda Pop Kid), during his gunfighter period. Frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
CALGARY - DECEMBER 23: LITTLE BIG MAN, theatrical movie originally released December 23, 1970. The film directed by Arthur Penn. Pictured, Dustin Hoffman (as Jack Crabb). Frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Dustin Hoffman in a scene from the film 'Papillon', 1973. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)
Dustin Hoffman during 7th Annual RFK Pro-Celebrity Tennis Tournament at Forest Hills in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Dustin Hoffman during 'The Eyes of Laura Mars' New York City Premiere - After Party at Xenon in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Dustin Hoffman and daughter during 1983 Your Choice Film Awards at Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
American actor Dustin Hoffman circa 1983. (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)
Actor Dustin Hoffman in half-leght, wearing a shirt and a pair of braces. 1985. (Photo by Mario Notarangelo/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Actor Dustin Hoffman (w. beard and mustache). (Photo by Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Dustin Hoffman (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
Paris, France-04/04/95-American actor Dustin Hoffman. (Photo by Francis Apesteguy/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 648 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Dustin Hoffman during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 8, 1995 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
American Actor Dustin Hoffman (Photo by RUSSEIL christophe/Sygma via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 17: Director Steven Spielberg, actor Tom Cruise, actress Jodie Foster and actor Dustin Hoffman attend the Fifth Annual John Huston Award for Artists Rights Salute to Tom Cruise on April 17, 1998 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LONDON - JANUARY 25: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Actor Dustin Hoffman poses at the 'Meet The Fockers' Press Junket at The Dorchester Hotel on January 25, 2005 in London. The film is the sequel to 2000's hit comedy 'Meet The Parents' and stars Blythe Danner, Robert DeNiro, Barbra Streisand and Ben Stiller. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Dustin Hoffman and Ronald McDonald during 2003 World Childrens Day at McDonalds - Los Angeles at Los Angeles area McDonalds restaurant in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic)
Dustin Hoffman and Eva Mendes during 2005 MTV Movie Awards - Backstage and Audience at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 22: Actor Dustin Hoffman visits 'Late Show with David Letterman' at the Ed Sullivan Theater on December 22, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4394 -- Pictured: Actor Dustin Hoffman arrives on January 24, 2013 -- (Photo by: Stacie McChesney/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Dustin Hoffman appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
Actor Dustin Hoffman attends the Premiere of Kung Fu Panda 3, in Hollywood, California, on January 16, 2015.
/ AFP / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26: Dustin Hoffman attends the Cleveland Cavaliers vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on March 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 11: Lisa Hoffman and Dustin Hoffman attend a screening of Netflix's on October 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/ WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06: Dustin Hoffman (L) and Lisa Hoffman attend the Laugh Gala & UK Premiere of 'The Meyerowitz Stories' during the 61st BFI London Film Festival at Embankment Gardens Cinema on October 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)
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Thomas’ parents — her father was the U.N. ambassador from Liberia — were supposed to pick her up at the restaurant. But, according to Thomas, Hoffman suggested that the three of them wait at the hotel where he was staying and leave a note for Thomas’ parents with the maitre d’ saying they had gone to the hotel. After the three arrived at Hoffman’s hotel room, “Either Karina or Dustin suggested that [Karina] should go home” to Hoffman and Byrne’s house nearby, Thomas said, “because it was a school night and she had homework. So she left, and I was left in the hotel room with him alone.”
Shortly after Karina departed, according to Thomas, Hoffman went to the restroom. She heard the shower turn on. “I was just sitting there waiting for my parents,” Thomas said.
After several minutes, “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 eventually put on a robe and sat on the bed, according to Thomas, who said that he then asked her to massage his feet. She complied.
“I didn’t know what to do in the circumstance,” she said. “I didn’t know that I could say no, so I did it. And he kept telling me, ‘I’m naked. Do you want to see?’” Thomas said that she pretended not to hear Hoffman as he made suggestive comments to her.
“What saved me was that the phone rang, and it was my mother downstairs to pick me up,” Thomas said. “So I left.” She did not tell her mother about the story until decades later. “I was humiliated. My mother always had some instinct that something untoward had happened. She kept asking me, and I was so mortified, I never said anything.” Speaking to Variety, Thomas’ mother recalled arriving at the restaurant, receiving the note, then picking her daughter up at the hotel. She recalled being concerned that her daughter had been alone in the room with Hoffman.
Cori Thomas did not tell her mother about what happened in the room until recently. She also never told Karina, who years later was a bridesmaid in Thomas’ wedding. “I didn’t want to embarrass her,” she said.
Thomas didn’t share the story of her encounter with Hoffman until seven years after it allegedly occurred, when her daughter was born. She told a family member — who confirmed to Variety having heard the story some time in the 1980s — and several close friends. “One of them said, ‘If this was your daughter, what would you do?’ And I said, ‘I would call the police,’” said Thomas, who is now a playwright.
High-profile men accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct
High-profile men accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct
Movie producer Harvey Weinstein is accused of sexually assaulting or harassing dozens of women, including a number of well-known celebrities, over the past several decades.
Matt Lauer was fired from 'Today' after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct that allegedly included giving a co-worker a sex toy and dropping his pants in front of a female employee in his office.
Actor Jeffrey Tambor has been accused of sexual assault by two women from the Amazon series, "Transparent."
Eleven women have come forward accusing President Donald Trump of unwanted touching or kissing. Trump has called the sexual harassment claims 'fake news.'
(Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves resigned from the company, the company said on Sunday, amid allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
(Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx)
Sen. Al Franken is accused of kissing and groping a woman without her consent during a United Service Organizations (USO) tour in 2006.
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Director Woody Allen has been accused of sexual assault by his daughter, Dylan Farrow. She says she experienced inappropriate behavior by her adoptive father on several occasions.
Hundreds of women accused longtime Hollywood writer and director James Toback of sexual harassment.
(TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of forcing women to watch him masturbate, according to the New York Times.
(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Director Bret Ratner has been accused of sexual harassment by several women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when he was 14 years old.
Roger Ailes, the former president of Fox News Channel, was accused of sexually harassing former anchor Gretchen Carlson and several other women from the network.
(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Several women accused TV host Charlie Rose of sexual misconduct, including groping and lewd phone calls.
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Bill Cosby has faced sexual assault allegations from about 60 women, including several women who claim he drugged them.
(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
Four women, including several that were also fellow Scientologists, have accused actor Danny Masterson of sexual assault, according to HuffPost.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Mark Schwahn, the former "One Tree Hill" showrunner, was accused of sexual harassment by a large number of the show's cast and crew.
(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
Roy Moore faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with underaged girls.
Bill Clinton faced numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct while he was president of the United States, with accusers including Juanita Broaddrick, who accused him of rape, Kathleen Willey who said he groped her and Paula Jones who said he exposed himself to her without consent.
(Photo by Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Actor Casey Affleck settled lawsuits out of court wth two women who accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Film Independent)
Bill O'Reilly has reportedly made numerous settlements with women who accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic congressman was sentenced to 21 months in prison in September 2017 after pleading guilty to sexting a teenage girl.
(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Veteran journalist Mark Halperin has been accused of sexually harassing women while he worked at ABC News.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Singer R. Kelly is accused of holding women against their will in houses in Illinois and Georgia in a reported 'sex cult.'
(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Former Fox Host Eric Bolling was accused of sending unsolicited lewd text messages to female colleagues.
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Director Roman Polanski fled the US after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Several other women have also come forward to accuse him of sexual assault.
Chef John Besh stepped down from the company he founded after female employees reported facing sexual harassment there.
(Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
Photographer Terry Richardson was labeled the 'Harvey Weinstein of Fashion' by the Sunday Times amid widespread accusations of sexual harassment by models.
(Photo by Eugene Gologursky/WireImage)
Singer Kesha accused Lukasz Gottwald aka Dr. Luke of drugging and sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions.
(Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
Former champion boxer Mike Tyson was convicted of raping a Miss Black America contestant in 1992.
Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by dozens of his former patients and athletes.
(JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Music mogul L.A. Reid left his position as Epic Records CEO/Chairman in 2017 amid harassment claims by a female assistant.
(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
Amazon Studios chief Roy Price resigned following reports that he harassed a producer and ignored an actress' allegation of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein.
(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
Several women have accused former President George H.W. Bush of groping them during photo ops.
Chris Savino (right), creator of 'The Loud House' was suspended by Nickelodeon after being accused of making unwanted advances toward multiple women.
(Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD)
Actor Steven Seagal was accused of sexual misconduct by Inside Edition's chief investigative correspondent Lisa Guerrero.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images,)
Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news and editorial director of National Public Radio, was accused of inappropriate conduct with two women in 1990s.
Dustin Hoffman was accused of sexually harassing a production assistant when he was 48 and she was a high school senior.
Jeremy Piven was accused by actress Ariane Bellamar of groping her on two separate occasions. Piven 'unequivocally' denied the allegations.
Ben Affleck apologized for acting 'inappropriately' towards Hilarie Burton during an appearance on MTV's "Total Request Live" in 2003.
Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct by a woman he went on a date with.
Andy Dick was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct on set, including groping people’s genitals, unwanted kissing/licking and sexual propositions.
(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, (D) Nevada, was accused of making repeated, unwanted propositions for dates and sex to a woman that once worked on his campaign.
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Actor Ed Westwick was accused by actress Kristina Cohen of raping her in his home.
David Guillod, producer of 'Atomic Blonde,' is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting several woman.
(Photo by Jennifer Lourie/Getty Images)
Andrew Kreisberg, the showrunner for "Supergirl," was suspended in November 2017 amid numerous sexual harassment allegations by members of his staff.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Actor Tom Sizemore was reportedly told to leave a film set in 2003 after an 11-year-old actress told her mother that he had touched her genitals.
Steve Jurvetson left his own venture capital firm after allegations of sexual harassment
(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
A former model accused George Takei of sexually assaulting him 36 years ago.
(Photo by Tara Ziemba/FilmMagic)
Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo accused former FIFA president Sepp Blatter of sexually assaulted her at an award ceremony in 2013.
A former writer for 'Mad Men' said the show's creator Matthew Weiner told her that she owed it to him to let him see her naked.
Ron Jeremy has been accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women and the allegations span more than 30 years.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Multiple women accused producer Adam Fields of touching them inappropriately and sexually propositioning them.
(Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has been accused of unwanted sexual advances by former staffers.
(Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
John Lasseter, the head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, was accused of crossing the line with employees, including unwanted hugs.
(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Singer Nick Carter was accused of rape by a former member of the all-girl teen band Dream, Melissa Schuman.
(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
A singer accused billionaire Richard Branson of sexual assault during an event as his Necker Island in the Caribbean. Branson says he has no recollection of the matter.
Talent agent Adam Venit is accused of grabbing actor Terry Crews' genitals.
(Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Jeordie White (aka Twiggy Ramirez), Marilyn Manson former longtime bassist, was accused of rape by singer Jessicka Addams.
(Photo by Chris Weeks/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli)
Lockhart Steele, Vox Media's editorial director was fired after a former employee accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Hal Horowitz/WireImage for Haute Magazine)
Producer Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein's brother, has also been accused of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
Jesse Lacey of the band, Brand New, was accused of sexual misconduct, including soliciting nude photos from a teen girl in the past.
(Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Redferns)
Senior Correspondent for E! News Ken Baker California was accused of sexual harassment by two women.
(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
American film director Oliver Stone was accused of groping model and actress Carrie Stevens in the 1990s.
(Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
Reporter Glenn Thrush was suspended by the New York Times after several women accused him of acting inappropriately when they were young journalists.
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Veteran radio host Garrison Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio following claim of improper behavior.
(Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)
CNN producer Teddy Davis was fired after multiple accusations of harassment.
(Photo via Twitter)
Producer Russell Simmons stepped down from his companies following sexual assault and harassment accusations from two women.
Longtime conductor James Levine was suspended by New York's Metropolitan Opera after sexual abuse claims.
(Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)
Dylan Howard, editor in chief of the National Enquirer, was accused of sexual misconduct by several former employees, including forcing them to watch porn and openly discussing his sexual partners.
"X-Men" director Bryan Singer was accused of raping a 17-year-old boy on a yacht in a lawsuit filed in December.
Harold Ford, Jr.
(Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Chef Mario Batali has been accused by multiple women of "inappropriate touching in a pattern of behavior that spans at least two decades."
(Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)
PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley's show was suspended amid misconduct allegations made against him.
Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb was fired from his job as an ESPN contributor amid accusations of sexual harassment by a wardrobe stylist at the network.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Sen. Jeff Klein (D-New York), was accused of forcibly kissing a former female staffer back in 2015.
(Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)
Ross Levinsohn, Los Angeles Times CEO and publisher, has reportedly been a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits and would rate the "hotness" of his female colleagues, according to a report by NPR.
(Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A woman accused magician David Copperfield of drugging, sexually assaulting her when she was teen model in the 80s, according to The Wrap.
James Franco was accused by several women of sexually inappropriate behavior. He was also criticized for wearing a "Time's Up" pin to the Golden Globes hours before the accusations against him surfaced.
(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
Barry Lubin, also known as Grandma the clown, resigned from Big Apple Circus after admitting to pressuring a 16-year-old girl into posing for pornographic photos in 2004.
(Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Arizona Wildcats head football coach Rich Rodriguez was fired amid troubling off-field allegations. His former administrative assistant says Rodriguez inappropriately grabbed and touched her.
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
President Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was accused of sexual assault by pro-Trump singer Joy Villa. She claims he hit her on the buttocks during an event at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
(Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Steve Wynn, Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of peple. The Wall Street Journal the casino mogul regularly pressured employees to perform sex acts.
Music exec and 'The Four' judge Charlie Walk was accused of sexual harassment by a former employee. Life Lab founder Tristan Coopersmith penned an open letter about Walk in January claiming he sent her lewd comment and cornered her in the bedroom he shared with his wife.
(Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for Vh1 Save The Music)
Several women filed sexual harassment complaints against Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle, according to the Washington Post.
(Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Actor Scott Baio, was accused of molesting is former 'Charles in Charge' co-star Nicole Eggert when she was a minor.
Paris Dennard, GOP commentator
(Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Ryan Adams performs at the Marriott Rewards and Universal Music Present Music is Universal during the South by Southwest Music Festival at JW Marriott Austin on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP)
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Kester met Hoffman while he was making “Ishtar.” Living in Los Angeles, Kester was dating a man who worked on the music for the film and who invited her to visit the Malibu studio where Hoffman was recording vocal tracks for the movie’s songs. On her first visit, according to Kester, Hoffman’s second and current wife, Lisa, was present as were more than one of Hoffman’s younger children. On another visit, Kester said, she watched part of Hoffman’s performance in “Death of a Salesman” on VHS with the actor and others at the studio.
“We got into this conversation about Arthur Miller, and I told him that I wanted to write,” Kester, now a producer of corporate instructional videos, said. “I told him about some projects I was interested in, and he seemed really interested. I’m embarrassed, thinking back, because why would he be interested? It’s stupid.” Hoffman, according to Kester, suggested that he may want to work with her and asked for her phone number, which she gave him.
On a third visit, Kester said, she was in the control room with her boyfriend and a male engineer while Hoffman recorded the vocal track for one of the film’s songs in an isolation booth. A window between the control room and the booth, Kester said, made Hoffman visible to those in the control room from only chest level up.
Hoffman, Kester said, was struggling with his vocals, and the two men in the control room were making technical adjustments to compensate.
“He was in the recording booth, and he was like, ‘Send Melissa in here. I’m bored. Send Melissa in here,’” said Kester, who characterized the atmosphere as joking. She went into the booth with Hoffman.
“He may have been being flirtatious, but it wasn’t to the point of being obscene, because my boyfriend’s there,” Kester said. “Then they get ready to do another take. 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.”
Kester said that she made an effort not to react for fear that her boyfriend or the other man in the control room would know what was happening. She estimated that Hoffman kept his fingers inside her for 15-20 seconds, until he finished the take. Then she moved away from him.
“He kind of laughed,” she said. “Then I just ran out of there, and I sat in the bathroom crying. I thought, ‘Oh my God.’ I felt like I’d been raped. There was no warning. I didn’t know he would do that.”
Kester left the studio and never told her boyfriend, with whom she shared a long-term relationship for several years, about the alleged incident. Shortly after it occurred, she told a friend that Hoffman had groped her and made a pass at her, but not the details of the unwanted sexual contact. That person confirmed that account to Variety.
Hoffman, Kester said, called her repeatedly after the incident. The first time, he asked if they could get together, to which she responded no, she was busy. “The third time he called, that’s when I felt a rush of fear,” said Kester, who worried that Hoffman might begin stalking her. “That’s when I said, ‘You have to stop calling me. Please don’t call me.’” She did not hear from him again. Kester later attended the 1987 premiere of “Ishtar” with her boyfriend, but did not speak to Hoffman.
A third woman who asked to remain anonymous told Variety that Hoffman also assaulted her while working on “Ishtar” and that she had a subsequent sexual encounter with him that she characterized as consensual. She was 22 years old and had a non-speaking role in one of the film’s nightclub scenes shot in New York at Kaufman Astoria Studios. Hoffman, she said, approached her on set and told her “You’re a real actress, aren’t you?” Hoffman invited her to eat lunch in his dressing room, which she did.
A week later, the woman was at her job at an answering service when a friend on the film called her and said that Hoffman wanted to see if she would come to set and had offered to send a car for her. She turned down the ride, but agreed to go to the set. “I got off work. I got one [subway] token and I went out there to Kaufman Astoria Studios. He was escorting me around. He put me in a director’s chair. It was the last day of the shoot.”
She said that she observed the end of shooting, but then, as a wrap party began on the set, told Hoffman that she was going to leave. “He was like ‘No, no, stay,’” she said. “He gave me a drink. Everybody was dancing. And he just kept keeping an eye on me.”
After 1 a.m., the woman said, Hoffman offered to give her a ride home. Hoffman had a driver operating a station wagon that quickly filled with other people from the set. “I said ‘Okay, I’ll just get home another way.’ He goes, ‘No, we’ll get in the way back.’”
The woman said that she and Hoffman lay next to each other in the back of the station wagon, which started moving shortly thereafter. She was wearing a skirt. “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.”
The woman said that she does not recall how long the unwanted contact lasted, and that she felt unable to do anything to stop it. “There were people there,” she said. “What are they going to think of me, that I’m a whore, if a say something? What would I say? He’s Dustin Hoffman.”
According to the woman, the car dropped her near her apartment, but Hoffman put $20 in her hand and instructed her to go to the San Remo, where he lived. “I didn’t know what to do,” the woman said, describing herself as being in “a kind of fugue state” triggered by her encounter with Hoffman and related to abuse that she suffered as a child. She hailed a cab and asked the driver to “drive around” for a few minutes, then asked him to take her to the San Remo. There she said, Hoffman was waiting outside the building. She accompanied him upstairs, where, she claimed, he performed oral sex on her and they had intercourse.
Asked if she would describe the encounter in the station wagon as non-consensual, she said “yes.” Asked if she would describe the encounter at the San Remo as such, she said, “I don’t know.”
Earlier this year, three women came forward with allegations against Hoffman detailing sexual harassment that they said occurred decades ago. In an October letter in the Hollywood Reporter, Anna Graham Hunter, a production assistant on “Death of a Salesman” in 1985, wrote that Hoffman harassed and assaulted her on set when she was 17 years old. The following month, Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, now a producer on the National Geographic series “Genius,” told Variety that Hoffman propositioned her during a pitch meeting. Last week, actress Kathryn Rossetter wrote in the Hollywood Reporter that Hoffman groped and assaulted her while the two worked together on the Broadway production of “Death of a Salesman.”