Eliza Dushku, an actress on the popular CBS show “Bull,” was paid $9.5 million to confidentially settle allegations that she was dismissed from the series after she complained about being harassed on set, it was reported Friday.
Dushku was featured in the first season of the CBS procedural drama, playing a criminal defense lawyer. According to a detailed report by the New York Times, she confronted “Bull” star Michael Weatherly about comments he made that left her uncomfortable. The alleged remarks included references to her appearance and a rape joke, according to the New York Times’ report.
The revelations were uncovered during a broad review of CBS’ workplace culture prompted by sexual misconduct allegations against longtime Chief Executive Leslie Moonves. Multiple women have accused the former executive of making unwanted advances. Moonves resigned under pressure in September but the investigation, at the behest of CBS’ board, continued.
CBS confirmed the existence of the settlement with Dushku, whose credits also include `Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
`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 broadcaster said in its 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.”
The settlement, reached in January, came after she went through mediation with CBS. By that time, CBS had become aware of allegations of sexual misconduct involving Moonves.
The investigators’ attorneys at two high-profile New York law firms, Debevoise & Plimpton and Covington & Burling, have interviewed more than 350 people at various divisions, including CBS Entertainment in Studio City and CBS News in New York.
The investigators are winding down their review, and they are expected to deliver a report to CBS’ board in the coming days, according to knowledgeable people quoted by the Los Angeles Times. The result of the investigation will help determine whether the board has justification to fire Moonves for cause, denying him his $120 million severance package.
Weatherly, who couldn’t be reached for comment, made several comments directed at Dushku that she found demeaning, according to the New York Times’ description of the report. In one incident Dushku described to investigators, she made a gesture with three fingers and, in response, Weatherly suggested she wanted a threesome with him and another cast member. While shooting a scene involving a windowless van, Weatherly said he would take Dushku to his “rape van,” according to the report. Dushku told investigators that after she confronted Weatherly about the comments, she was told she would not be returning to the show.
In a statement to the New York Times, Weatherly said he had apologized to Dushku.
“During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script,” Mr. 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.”