CBS Paid Eliza Dushku $9.5 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment Claim Against ‘Bull’ Star Michael Weatherly

Actress accused series star of multiple instances of inappropriate behavior

Eliza Dushku
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CBS agreed to pay Eliza Dushku a multimillion-dollar settlement in January following her complaint that she was written off the drama “Bull” after she confronted series star Michael Weatherly about multiple instances of inappropriate behavior.

On Thursday The New York Times broke the news about the $9.5 million settlement, citing a draft of a report by independent law firms investigating the culture at CBS at the request of the company’s board.

“The allegations in Ms. Dushku’s claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done,” the network told TheWrap in statement. “The settlement of these claims reflects the projected amount that Ms. Dushku would have received for the balance of her contract as a series regular, and was determined in a mutually agreed upon mediation process at the time.”

Last year, Dushku, best known for her work on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” was tapped to play a major role in three episodes of “Bull,” with the possibility of becoming a full-time cast member.

But Dushku was soon written off the show after she confronted Weatherly, the series’ star, over comments she said made her uncomfortable, according to the report.

According to Dushku, Weatherly made comments about her appearance in front of the crew. She also said he made a rape joke and a comment about a threesome.

Dushku said she believes her time on “Bull” came to an end as a form of retaliation.

Weatherly did not immediately respond to request for comment. But he apologized for his behavior in a statement to the Times.

“During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script,” Weatherly said in the statement. “When Eliza told me that she wasn’t comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologized. After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza.”

After going through mediation, the network agreed to a confidential settlement to the tune of $9.5 million, roughly the salary Dushku would have made over four seasons, the Times reported.

The inappropriate comments came to light following a CBS investigation into claims of sexual misconduct made by multiple women against the company’s now-ousted CEO Leslie Moonves. As part of the investigation, the company’s board instructed two separate law firms to investigate “cultural issues at all levels of CBS.”

The Times, which obtained a copy of the investigation report, said that lawyers concluded that CBS’ handling of Dushku’s complaint was misguided and was “emblematic of larger problems at CBS.”

Investigators went on to say that the company had a tendency to protect itself at the expense of the victims.

Bull, which premiered in 2016, is a procedural drama loosely based on Dr. Phil McGraw’s early career as a trial consultant. The series follows the employees at Trial Analysis Corporation (TAC), a jury consulting firm headed by Dr. Jason Bull (Weatherly).

Dushku was hired to play J.P. Nunnelly, a criminal defense lawyer. Her character was supposed to have an ongoing flirtation with Weatherly’s character culminating in an intimate relationship in the show’s fifth season, according to notes taken during Dushku’s investigation.

But, according to the paper, Weatherly began making crude comments that left Dushku uncomfortable.

At one point, when Dushku was wearing a suit, Weatherly said: “Here comes legs.” On another occasion, he said in front of the cast and crew that he would bend her over his leg and spank her, according to notes taken by investigators.

Weatherly told the Times the comments about spanking were meant as a joke.

Dushku also said that at one point, while in character, she made a gesture with three fingers. Weatherly suggested that she wanted to have a threesome with him and another male cast member.

Asked about it by the Times, Weatherly said: “While we’re shooting, in the context of the scene, she held up three fingers, suggesting something,” he said. “And I ad-libbed, ‘Threesome?’”

News of the settlement comes after CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves was forced out of the company after a dozen women accused him of sexual harassment and assault.