Fred Savage denies claims after 'The Grinder' costumer details alleged verbal, physical abuse

A female crew member who worked on former Fox comedy The Grinder has filed a lawsuit accusing star Fred Savage of verbally harassing and physically striking her on set.

Youngjoo Hwang, who was a costumer on the series, appeared in a news conference with her attorney, Anahita Sedaghatfar, where she detailed the allegations in a lawsuit against Savage and 20th Century Fox filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday. Sedaghatfar said the lawsuit charged assault, battery, gender discrimination, and gender harassment, among other things.

“From the outset of the show, Mr. Savage was aggressive towards me,” Hwang said. “He would routinely curse at me, yell at me, demean me, when all I was trying to do was my job. It became more and more stressful for me to go to work, because I was scared of the abuse and what I would have to encounter on any given day.”

Hwang alleged that other women on the set were victimized as well.

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Fred Savage through the years
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Fred Savage through the years
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 28: THE WONDER YEARS - 'Just Between You and Me ... and Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky' - Season Two - 12/28/88, Kevin (Fred Savage) and Winnie's (Danica McKellar) relationships go awry., (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 18: WONDER YEARS - 'Gallery' 1988 Fred Savage (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 30: THE WONDER YEARS - Season One - 10/30/88, Pre-teens Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano, left) and Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) learned about life and love growing up in suburban America in the late 1960s., (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
Actor Fred Savage attends the 31st Annual 'Hollywood Stars Night' Celebrity Baseball on August 26, 1989 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actor Fred Savage attends The Hollywood Women's Press Club's 49th Annual Golden Apple Awards on December 10, 1989 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actor Fred Savage attends the Taping of the HBO Television Special 'Comic Relief 3' to Raise Funds for the Homeless on March 18, 1989 at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 26: THE WONDER YEARS - 'Gallery' 1989 Fred Savage (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
Actor Fred Savage attends the ABC Television Affiliates Party on June 14, 1990 at Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actor Fred Savage attends the 42nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 16, 1990 at Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 14: THE WONDER YEARS - 'The Ties That Bind' - Season Four - 11/14/90, Wayne (Jason Hervey) and Kevin (Fred Savage) missed Jack at Thanksgiving., (Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)
Actor Fred Savage attends the 43rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 25, 1991 at Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actor Fred Savage attends The 100th Episode Celebration of 'The Wonder Years' on November 11, 1992 at Ed DeBevic's in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 11: THE WONDER YEARS - 'Wayne and Bonnie' - Season Six - 11/11/92, Wayne (Jason Hervey, center) fell head-over-heels with Bonnie Douglas (Paula Marshall), a 23-year-old divorcee and single mother, while a lonely Kevin (Fred Savage) needed to apologize to Winnie. , (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 222 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Fred Savage during an interview with host Jay Leno on May 11, 1993-- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Actor Fred Savage attends the National Veterans Foundation Honors Charles Durning on March 2, 1994 at Westwood Playhouse in Westwood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actor Fred Savage attends the NBC Summer TCA Press Tour on July 20, 1997 at Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actor Fred Savage and date Lara Wells attend the 'Rounders' Hollywood Premiere on August 25, 1998 at Loews Cineplex Showcase La Brea in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actor Fred Savage and guest attend the '54' Hollywood Premiere on August 24, 1998 at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Fred Savage during 'Cast Away' Los Angeles Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 2311 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Fred Savage during an interview with host Jay Leno on July 30, 2002 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Fred Savage & Kate Bosworth during Premierei of The Rules of Attraction Hosted by Flaunt Magazine at The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA, United States. (Photo by Chris Weeks/FilmMagic)
Fred Savage and wife Jennifer at the El Capitan in Hollywood, California (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 29: Actor Fred Savage (L) poses with son Oliver at the Second Annual 'babyLOVE' benefit for the March Of Dimes at the Beverly Hilton Hotel September 29, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Actor Fred Savage (R) and daughter Lily Savage at Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! There's A Party In My City! at Nokia L.A. Live on November 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 04: Actor Fred Savage arrives at The Actor's Fund 2014 The Looking Ahead Awards at Taglyan Cultural Complex on December 4, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Actor/director Fred Savage (L) and Jennifer Stone Savage attend the 2014 LACMA Art + Film Gala honoring Barbara Kruger and Quentin Tarantino presented by Gucci at LACMA on November 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 06: Actor Fred Savage attends the Actors Fund's 2016 'Looking Ahead' awards at Taglyan Complex on December 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Fred Savage attends the premiere of 'SPF-18' at University High School on September 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 28: Fred Savage arrives at the UCLA's Johnsson Center Hosts 22nd Annual 'Taste For A Cure' Event Honoring Yael And Scooter Braun at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on April 28, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
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“I’m not the only woman on set that Mr. Savage targeted,” Hwang said. “There were others, and this was well known on set. During a taping of an episode, I was attempting to brush off dandruff off Mr. Savage’s jacket. Mr. Savage snapped. He yelled at me, told me not to touch him, and he hit my arm violently three times. I could not stop crying. I was in pain, I was humiliated, and I was scared. This was the last straw for me, because now my physical safety was at risk.”

“I immediately reported this incident to my superiors and, rather than taking action against Mr. Savage, they encouraged me to not report Mr. Savage’s conduct, because a lot of people would lose their job and I would never work in this industry again. My complaints were ignored. The violence perpetrated against me was ignored, and I was made to feel as if I had done something wrong, that I was to blame, and that I should just keep my mouth shut.”

Hwang, who teared up as she spoke, said she was moved to another show. She charged that Savage was allowed to keep working without reprimand.

“It took everything I had in me to be here today and to speak out,” she said. “I was inspired by the Me Too Movement and the women before me, and I’m here hopefully to encourage other women to come forward and speak their truth.”

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Youngjoo Hwang accuses Fred Savage of abuse
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Youngjoo Hwang accuses Fred Savage of abuse
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 21: Youngjoo Hwang (L) speaks during a press conference with her attorney Anahita Sedaghatfar to announce a lawsuit against actor Fred Savage and the TV network FOX March 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Hwang, a former wardrobe department member for the sitcom �The Grinder� has made allegations of harassment, assault, battery and discrimination against Savage and FOX stemming from alleged incidents in 2015. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 21: Youngjoo Hwang attends a press conference with her attorney Anahita Sedaghatfar (not pictured) to announce a lawsuit against actor Fred Savage and the TV network FOX March 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Hwang, a former wardrobe department member for the sitcom �The Grinder� has made allegations of harassment, assault, battery and discrimination against Savage and FOX stemming from alleged incidents in 2015. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 21: Youngjoo Hwang attends a press conference with her attorney Anahita Sedaghatfar (not pictured) to announce a lawsuit against actor Fred Savage and the TV network FOX March 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Hwang, a former wardrobe department member for the sitcom �The Grinder� has made allegations of harassment, assault, battery and discrimination against Savage and FOX stemming from alleged incidents in 2015. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 21: Attorney Anahita Sedaghatfar (R) speaks during a press conference with her client Youngjoo Hwang to announce a lawsuit against actor Fred Savage and the TV network FOX March 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Hwang, a former wardrobe department member for the sitcom �The Grinder� has made allegations of harassment, assault, battery and discrimination against Savage and FOX stemming from alleged incidents in 2015. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 21: Attorney Anahita Sedaghatfar (R) speaks during a press conference with her client Youngjoo Hwang to announce a lawsuit against actor Fred Savage and the TV network FOX March 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Hwang, a former wardrobe department member for the sitcom �The Grinder� has made allegations of harassment, assault, battery and discrimination against Savage and FOX stemming from alleged incidents in 2015. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
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In a statement, Savage refuted Hwang’s story.

“I have witnessed tremendous courage over these past few months, watching brave women who have come forward publicly fighting through the shame and stigma of harassment,” he said. “I’ve seen first-hand the growing support in this movement that has always felt so lacking. As someone who has always tried to live honorably and with integrity, it never dawned on me that my name could be on the other side.”

Savage continued, “I was made aware that a woman working in the costume department of a show I was on almost three years ago has claimed that I treated her harshly on set simply because she was a woman. These accusations are completely without merit and absolutely untrue. Fox conducted an extensive internal investigation into her claims, a process in which I fully participated. After concluding a thorough investigation, Fox determined that there was absolutely no evidence to support these accusations. None of her claims could be substantiated because they did not happen.

“I have been working in the entertainment industry my whole life and have always endeavored to treat everyone on any set I work on respectfully and professionally. While none of the accusations being leveled at me are true, I wholeheartedly support all people who feel they are being mistreated come forward and speak to human resources and those in charge. We have witnessed so much bravery from those speaking out recently, but I will just as boldly protect myself and my family from those seeking to tarnish my good name. I cannot let these people, in particular, denigrate me while harming the message of thousands of women and others who have suffered and continue to suffer.”

In a statement given to Deadline, 20th Century Fox TV also denied allegations of wrongdoing.

“Fox takes all allegations of improper conduct very seriously,” the company said. “We conducted a thorough investigation into these allegations and found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Savage. We will vigorously defend against these unfounded claims.”

On The Grinder, Savage, 41, starred as a lawyer teaming up with his older brother (Rob Lowe), an actor who played a lawyer nicknamed “The Grinder” on TV, for real-life court cases. The comedy ran for 22 episodes during the 2015-2016 TV season, and was not renewed for a second.

Lowe teased in July that the show might return in some form.

“I hear a rumor that there might be life to The Grinder in some sort of special or movie or something like that,” Lowe said during a Build Series interview. “I don’t think you’ve seen the last of The Grinder. Too many people liked it. It was such a good show. And I feel like Arrested Development and Family Guy, all shows that were canceled before their time ― ahem, by Fox ― I think there’s probably more to be done.”

Interestingly, Alley Mills, who starred as Savage’s mother on six seasons of The Wonder Years, from 1988 to 1993, revealed to Yahoo Entertainment in January that the ‘90s hit show had ended as a result of accusations against Savage.

“When we shot the series finale … nobody knew whether or not The Wonder Years was going to be renewed,” Mills said. “And that’s because of a completely ridiculous sexual harassment suit that was going on against Fred Savage — who is, like, the least offensive, most wonderful, sweet human being that ever walked the face of the Earth.”

In 1993, Monique Long, a 31-year-old costume designer for the show, had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Savage, who was then 16, and on-screen older brother Jason Hervey, then 20. Long accused the actors of verbally and physically harassing her to the point that she couldn’t do her job properly and was fired. Reps for the show and the actors denied the allegations at the time they were made. Eventually, an out-of-court settlement was reached and the lawsuit was dropped, which Mills said was the network buying Long off.

“So I just thought [the lawsuit] was a big joke and it was going to blow over,” Mills recalled. “It’s a little bit like what’s happening now — some innocent people can get caught up in this stuff; it’s very tricky. It was so not true. It was my dresser, and I don’t care if she’s listening — I probably shouldn’t be telling this, but I don’t care because it was so long ago and it’s gotta be over now.”

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