Television writer and producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis became the second woman to publicly accuse Dustin Hoffman of sexual harassment on Tuesday, telling Variety about an incident she says took place in 1991.
Riss Gatsiounis, currently an executive producer on the upcoming second season of National Geographic’s “Genius,” says the harassment occurred during a meeting with Hoffman and screenwriter Murray Schisgal (“Tootsie”) to talk about adapting her play, “A Darker Purpose,” into a movie.
Riss Gatsiounis had met with them once before and, she says, came to the second meeting with a revised pitch, only to be cut off. “I go in, and this time it’s like Dustin Hoffman’s really different. He says, ‘Before you start, let me ask you one question, Wendy — have you ever been intimate with a man over 40?’” Riss Gatsiounis said.
Riss Gatsiounis said Hoffman next said, “It would be a whole new body to explore,” while opening his arms, and then tried to convince her to go with him to a clothing store inside a hotel nearby. She said Schisgal was also present at this meeting, and that he tried to convince her to go to the store with Hoffman.
Riss Gatsiounis says she repeatedly declined the request, after which Hoffman left the meeting. Then, she said, “Schisgal says, ‘Look, we’re not really interested in your play, because it’s too film noir-ish.’ And that was it.” She was in her early 20s at the time, while Hoffman was 53.
“A Darker Purpose” was eventually adapted into the 1996 film “The Winner” starring Rebecca De Mornay and Vincent D’Onofrio.
Representatives for Hoffman did not immediately respond to requests for comment from TheWrap. In a statement provided to Variety, Schisgal denied the accusation.
The accusation comes less than a day after Anna Graham Hunter accused Hoffman of attempting to grope her four times on the set of the 1985 TV film adaptation of “Death of a Salesman” when she was 17 years old.
Hoffman later said in a statement, “I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.”