Brendan Fraser's Sexual Assault Was Excused As A 'Joke,' But He's Not Backing Down

"I don't get the joke."

Earlier this year, actor Brendan Fraser told GQ that in 2003, he was groped by Philip Berk, then-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the Golden Globes each year. In a new interview with the magazine, Fraser says the HFPA recently asked him to sign a statement calling the assault "a joke."

"I was blaming myself and I was miserable," Fraser said of the incident with Berk in February's story, adding, "It made me feel reclusive." 

His reps reportedly asked the HFPA for a written apology, but Berk told GQ he "admitted no wrongdoing" and that Fraser's account was "a complete fabrication." However, following February's story, the organization said it would investigate the incident, claiming the interview contained "alleged information that the HFPA was previously unaware of."

According to Fraser, the organization concluded its investigation and asked him to issue a joint statement, which allegedly read, in part, "Although it was concluded that Mr. Berk inappropriately touched Mr. Fraser, the evidence supports that it was intended to be taken as a joke and not as a sexual advance."

Fraser refused to sign the statement, saying the HFPA declined to show him a full report to back up their findings. "I don't get the joke," he told GQ writer Zach Baron, adding, "I'm the only one who would know where I was touched on my body."

As his story demonstrates, the supposed intention behind incidents sexual harassment or assault does not excuse the behavior, and the feelings of violation which accusers such as Fraser experience should be taken seriously

Fraser's experience is also an important reminder that it isn't just women who experience sexual harassment, in Hollywood or any environment. In light of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, other famous men such as Terry Crews and Khalid have shared their own stories of sexual assault. "I understand and empathize with those who have remained silent," Crews said last year.

Fraser, who said the aforementioned movements inspired him to come forward with his own experience, told GQ, "I want to find some way to make medicine out of this poison, which is not specific just to this enterprise." He shared his hope that the HFPA will "do the right thing" by asking Berk to step down and introducing new harassment policies.

"I think I'm just the first brick in the path," Fraser added. "Maybe someone else will put another brick down and the path will continue on. I don't know."

Hopefully, Fraser's story will inspire other survivors — both men and women — to speak their truth.

Cover image: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

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