Earlier this year—and in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations, the Kevin Spacey harassment accusations, and other nascent moments from the beginning of the #MeToo movement—actor Brendan Fraser stepped forward with a harassment story of his own. Talking to GQ back in February—in a longer profile titled “What Ever Happened To Brendan Fraser?”—the Trust actor detailed an interaction that he says helped derail both his career and his mental well-being, describing an incident in which Philip Berk, former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, allegedly groped him during an HFPA event. Berk has long contended that he only intended the moment—which he describes as a “pinch,” while Fraser categorized it in much more graphic terms—as a “joke,” and now, it seems, the HFPA has decided that it agrees.
This is per a GQ followup released today, in which Fraser described the results of the investigation that the HFPA—which distributes the Golden Globes, and which Fraser says gave him a cold shoulder after he first brought the incident to light—promised to do in the wake of the original profile. According to him, though, the organization essentially laughed away his claims in the end, advising him to issue a joint statement with it that, while acknowledging that Berk’s behavior was inappropriate, also said “the evidence supports that it was intended to be taken as a joke and not as a sexual advance.” (As though “Just joking!” is any kind of acceptable justification for touching another person in a way that makes them uncomfortable or without their consent, sexual intent or not.)
And while the HFPA statement would apparently include an apology from the organization itself, it seemed bound and determined to let Berk himself off the hook. The same GQ piece quotes Berk as saying that, while he hasn’t seen the actual investigation reports, he was “told the statement would absolve me of any wrongdoing,” and, when asked if he had faced any discipline from the organization, answered “None at all.”
Fraser, understandably, is unhappy with the result. “I don’t get the joke,” he told GQ. “I’m the only one who would know where I was touched on my body,” he added, noting that the HFPA would only show him summaries of its investigation, and not the actual report. Still, he’s trying to find some sort of positivity in this whole ugly mess:
I want to find some way to make medicine out of this poison, which is not specific just to this enterprise. There’s a system in place that’s unwritten. If you abide by it, you will be rewarded. If you don’t, you won’t be. But outside of that, I want to end this episode, this chapter, in my own life and career and move on, just as I’m hopeful that others will be able to in years to come.