A Los Angeles-based writer has posted on social media an allegation that Dreyfuss sexually harassed her over a two-to-three-year period in the mid-1980s. Jessica Teich wrote on Facebook this week that the Oscar-winning actor — and his brother — “repeatedly harassed” her while they were working on a TV script.
“This Hollywood eminence, who held my career in his grip, repeatedly said he wanted to f*ck me, even as his brother would suddenly shove his tongue inside my ear. Is that the worst thing that ever happened to me? Not by a long shot, but the abuse of power was breathtaking.”
In a Vulture interview that posted tonight, Teich gave more details — some quite lurid — of the alleged harassment.
She said that while the pair were working on an ABC special about the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution that would eventually air in 1987, Dreyfuss asked her to meet him in his trailer on a movie set. “He was at the back of the trailer,” she told Vulture, “and just — his penis was out, and he sort of tried to draw me close to it. He was hard. I remember my face being brought close to his penis. I can’t remember how my face got close to his penis, but I do remember that the idea was that I was going to give him a blow job. I didn’t, and I left.”
She said the actor never asked her to do anything while he was exposing himself.
That incident was the most shocking between them, said Teich, author of The Future Tense of Joy, a 2016 memoir that details a year of sexual molestation and horrific beatings she endured when she was 16 at the hands of a man 12 years her senior. But it certainly was their only encounter. “He created a very hostile work environment, where I felt sexualized, objectified, and unsafe,” she said. “He has that way of sidling up to you and saying things like, ‘I want to f*ck you.’ That was said all the time. He would constantly steer conversations to this yucky, insinuating thing, and I would sort of try to pull us back to a place where we could actually get some work done.”
Dreyfuss responded quickly to a request for comment by the piece’s author.
“I value and respect women, and I value and respect honesty,” his reply began. “So I want to try to tell you the complicated truth. At the height of my fame in the late 1970s I became an asshole–the kind of performative masculine man my father had modeled for me to be. I lived by the motto, ‘If you don’t flirt, you die.’ And flirt I did. … During those years I was swept up in a world of celebrity and drugs – which are not excuses, just truths. Since then I have had to redefine what it means to be a man, and an ethical man. I think every man on Earth has or will have to grapple with this question. But I am not an assaulter.”
He added: “I emphatically deny ever “exposing” myself to Jessica Teich, whom I have considered a friend for 30 years. I did flirt with her, and I remember trying to kiss Jessica as part of what I thought was a consensual seduction ritual that went on and on for many years. I am horrified and bewildered to discover that it wasn’t consensual. I didn’t get it. It makes me reassess every relationship I have ever thought was playful and mutual.”
When shown Dreyfuss’ comments, Teich said: “Wow, I don’t quite know what to make of that. I respect that he’s trying to grapple with it, and I regret that he’s not being totally honest. Sadly, what I regret even more is I’ll never forget the sight of his penis because I was so surprised to see it there.”
She also took issue with some of Dreyfuss’ language. “‘Flirt’ is absolutely not the right word,” she said. “It suggests something mutual, and that was not the case. … I’m not that guy’s friend. I haven’t seen that guy or spoken to him in 25 years. But as a person, I respond to the sense of hurt that underlies his words, and something in me feels compassion for him, even though he made my life hell. And that’s part of the complexity of the whole thing, I think.”