Eliza Dushku breaks silence on $9.5 million CBS sexual harassment settlement

"I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired."

'Bull,' Eliza Dushku
Michael Weatherly and Eliza Dushku in a scene from "Bull." –Barbara Nitke/CBS

Eliza Dushku has broken her silence about a $9.5 million settlement she received from CBS. In a lengthy essay for The Boston Globe’s opinion section, the Watertown native explains in painstaking detail how she says her “Bull” co-star Michael Weatherly regularly harassed and demeaned her, then got her fired when she pushed back against his behavior.

Dushku wrote that she originally declined to comment for the Dec. 13 New York Times article that broke news of the settlement because she believed the terms of the settlement compelled her silence. But after Weatherly’s and writer-producer Glenn Gordon Caron’s comments to the newspaper, which Dushku said “amounted to more deflection, denial, and spin,” Dushku decided to set the record straight.

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“I do not want to hear that I have a ‘humor deficit’ or can’t take a joke,” Dushku wrote. “I did not over-react. I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired.”

Dushku described a pervasive pattern of inappropriate behavior by Weatherly captured by CBS’s own videotapes.

“For weeks, Weatherly was recorded making sexual comments, and was recorded mimicking penis jousting with a male costar, this directly on the heels of the ‘threesome’ proposal, and another time referring to me repeatedly as ‘legs,'” Dushku wrote. “He regularly commented on my ‘ravishing’ beauty, following up with audible groans, oohing and aahing. As the tapes show, he liked to boast about his sperm and vasectomy reversals (‘I want you to know, Eliza, I have powerful swimmers’).”

Dushku also said that Weatherly frequently bragged about his close friendship with then-CBS chief executive Les Moonves. On Monday, CBS announced it will not pay Moonves his $120 million severance after the network concluded it will be able to fire him with cause for violating company policy and being uncooperative with its investigation into sexual harassment claims against him.

“He regaled me with stories about using Moonves’s plane, how they vacationed together, and what great friends they were,” Dushku wrote. “Weatherly wielded this special friendship as an amulet and, as I can see now, as a threat.”

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Dushku said that prior to being fired from the show, there were advanced plans to make her a co-lead on the series alongside Weatherly, a deal that could have been worth much more than her $9.5 million settlement. She said that plan disappeared within 48 hours of her speaking to Weatherly about his behavior.

“My talent representatives spoke to Caron about my firing months later,” Dushku wrote. “Caron defended Weatherly, explaining he had simply exhibited ‘frat’ behavior and added, ‘What does [Eliza] expect, she was in Maxim.’ On the subject of my legal rights, Caron said to my manager, ‘If Eliza wants to be out of the business by suing CBS, she can be out of the business.'”

Dushku said that while she took some solace in the terms of her settlement, which requires CBS to hire someone trained in “sexual harassment compliance” to monitor Weatherly’s behavior and the show in general, she is still seeking answers.

“I am still trying to make sense of how this could happen, especially in these times,” Dushku wrote. “The last thing I want at this point in my life is to be in the news. I am recently married and very happily finishing my college degree at home in Boston. But I do feel it is my duty to respond honestly and thoroughly to CBS, Michael Weatherly, and Glenn Gordon Caron’s latest revisionist accounts.”