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Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Gropenator

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Arnold had hoped that the short run-up to the election would keep his past from coming to light. But an avalanche of revelations begins today.

L.A. Times:

Six women who came into contact with Arnold Schwarzenegger on movie sets, in studio offices and in other settings over the last three decades say he touched them in a sexual manner without their consent.

In interviews with The Times, three of the women described their surprise and discomfort when Schwarzenegger grabbed their breasts. A fourth said he reached under her skirt and gripped her buttocks.

A fifth woman said Schwarzenegger groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit in a hotel elevator. A sixth said Schwarzenegger pulled her onto his lap and asked whether a certain sexual act had ever been performed on her.

According to the women’s accounts, one of the incidents occurred in the 1970s, two in the 1980s, two in the 1990s and one in 2000.

“Did he rape me? No,” said one woman, who described a 1980 encounter in which she said Schwarzenegger touched her breast. “Did he humiliate me? You bet he did.”

Four of the six women told their stories on condition that they not be named. Three work in Hollywood and said they were worried that, if they were identified, their careers would be in jeopardy for speaking out against Schwarzenegger, the onetime bodybuilding champion and box-office star who is now the front-runner in the Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election.

The other unnamed woman said she feared public ridicule and possible damage to her husband’s business.

In the four cases in which the women would not let their names be published, friends or relatives said that the women had told them about the incidents long before Schwarzenegger’s run for governor.

The earliest incident of the six described to The Times was said to have occurred in 1975 at Gold’s Gym near Venice Beach. E. Laine Stockton, then newly married to professional bodybuilder Robby Robinson, said she had gone to the gym to watch her husband work out.

Stockton was 19 at the time. She said she was wearing slacks, tennis shoes and a loose-fitting T-shirt. She said she was not wearing a bra.

As she sat on an exercise bench, Stockton said, Schwarzenegger walked up behind her, reached under her T-shirt and touched her bare left breast.

“The gym is full of bodybuilders and Arnold comes and he gropes my breast — actually touches my breast with his left hand,” she said.

She said Schwarzenegger then walked away without saying a word.

Stockton said she does not rule out that Schwarzenegger “may have meant it in playfulness.” But she did not take it that way.

“I was just shocked, shocked to the point where I almost didn’t know how to react, because it was so out of the blue and so unexpected,” she said. “It just completely caught me off guard, and when I finally came to my senses, I immediately went over to Robby and I said, ‘Look, Arnold just groped my breast.’ ”

Another incident described to The Times was said to have occurred in 1980. A former pro beach volleyball player said Schwarzenegger touched her breast on a Santa Monica street.

The woman remembered walking down 19th Street, just off Wilshire Boulevard, when Schwarzenegger spotted her from his car.

“Come here,” she recalled Schwarzenegger saying, as he motioned with his finger to the woman, then 22.

The two knew each other. She worked as a waitress at Fromin’s deli, she said, a place Schwarzenegger frequented. On an earlier occasion, she recalled, Schwarzenegger had asked her when she was going on break. “We could have a lot of fun in half an hour,” she remembered him saying. She said she was both a little scared and a little flattered. “I can’t say I wasn’t flattered. Arnold invited me to his apartment.” She said she declined his invitation.

Schwarzenegger later renewed his invitation, she said, when he spotted her playing in a women’s volleyball tournament at Venice Beach. “After the game, he came up to me and said, ‘Now you will come to my apartment.’ He didn’t want to hear no.” The woman said she told him, “It’s not going to happen.”

Now, she said, as she walked along 19th Street, Schwarzenegger conveyed a sense of urgency: “Come close, it’s very important.” As she drew nearer to his car to hear what he had to say, she recounted, Schwarzenegger “grabbed and squeezed” her left breast.

“If I was a man,” she said she told him, “I would bust your jaw.”

As tears welled in her eyes, she said, Schwarzenegger laughed. “He thought it was hilarious.”

She said she went to her car and “just started crying and crying.”

The woman said she told her sister about the encounter, a claim the sister confirmed. She recalled that her sibling was “completely offended.”

A movie studio secretary said Schwarzenegger grabbed her buttocks in the late 1980s.

She said the episode occurred on the Columbia Pictures lot, where she worked. She said she often accompanied her boss, who was also a woman, on visits around the lot. One day the boss asked if she would like to meet Schwarzenegger, who was in a production office.

“It was like, ‘Oh, come with me, you can meet him,’ ” the secretary said.

When they reached the office, she said, Schwarzenegger was seated on a couch. The secretary, then in her 30s, said she sat on a couch opposite Schwarzenegger while the actor and her supervisor talked. When the conversation ended, the secretary said she approached Schwarzenegger to shake his hand and say goodbye.

He remained seated, she said, and he slipped his left hand under her skirt and grabbed her right buttock.

“He just held on. He held on and said, ‘You have a very nice ass.’ He said, ‘I’d love to work you out.’ ”

“I remember thinking his hand was cold on my butt,” she said.

The door was open and the secretary said she remembers seeing a couple of people outside look in — and then quickly look away.

“All I was really thinking was, ‘I’d like to go.’ I was trying to figure out how to get his hand off my butt and his arm away from me without making a big deal of it. I remember thinking, ‘Geez, that’s a strong arm.’ … I was just thinking, ‘Let me get out of here.’ ”

She said she looked at the ceiling and looked at her boss, who kept repeating, “We’ve got to go now. We’ve got to go now,’ and yanking my arm. My boss did the best she could to get me away.”

The secretary said Schwarzenegger released her after about 20 seconds.

In late 1990, Schwarzenegger was in the San Bernardino County town of Fontana, shooting “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” According to a female crew member, Schwarzenegger harassed her on several occasions.

She recalled encountering the actor in an elevator as she headed downstairs to the pool of the hotel where the cast and crew were staying. On each occasion, she said, she was wearing a terrycloth robe over a black, one-piece Speedo swimsuit.

“At least three times — if not more — he would end up in the elevator with me, groping me and trying to take my robe off,” said the crew member, now 41 and still working in the movie industry.

“He would pin me against the corner in the elevator” and try to take off her robe and pull down the straps of her suit, she said.

The incidents did not last long, she said, because the elevator ride was short.

The woman said her response to Schwarzenegger’s actions evolved with each incident. “The first time, you’re like, “Oh, my God! I was groped by Arnold Schwarzenegger!’ The second time you’re like, ‘This is disgusting.’ The third time you’re like, ‘Get the … away from me.’ ”

She said she told her boss, who advised her, “Just stay away from him.”‘

After that, the woman said, she would check the hotel hallway before entering the elevator. She said if Schwarzenegger got into the pool, she would get out.

“What could you do? He was the highest-paid actor in the world. I was a peon,” she said. “The only thing you could do is stay away from him.”

The crew member said she told her husband about the elevator confrontations in 1992 or 1993. “I heard this story a long time ago,” her husband confirmed.

The couple spoke with The Times only after repeated assurances that their names would be kept confidential. “I’m a professional in the film business,” she said. “I fear retribution.”

Another woman, now a wife and mother in her 30s, said she also fell in Schwarzenegger’s “sight lines” while working as a crew member on “Terminator 2″ in Fontana.

She said Schwarzenegger was sitting in a director’s chair, surrounded by three or four other men, waiting for filming to start. It was either late afternoon or early evening, she said.

“I was walking on the set and Arnold called out, ‘Come here, you sexy devil,’ and reached out and pulled me on to his lap,” the woman recalled.

She said he then whispered in her ear: “Have you ever had a man slide his tongue in your [anus]?”

“I didn’t know how to react,” the woman said. “It was bizarre. What he said was so specifically sexual, it was bizarre.

“I remember looking around and seeing this bank of smiling faces and feeling alone,” she continued. The men standing at Schwarzenegger’s side, she said, “were in total support mode — of him, not me. It was kind of like everything he did was OK, and isn’t it funny and isn’t it swell? It was like they were proud of him …. Nobody said, ‘What are you doing? Leave her alone.’ ”

After the incident, she said, she continued on her way. “I didn’t fall apart,” she said, but added: “It’s embarrassing and degrading when you’re doing a job.”

Nancy Tafoya, who was also on the set of “Terminator 2,” recalled her own encounter with Schwarzenegger. Tafoya — who was serving as a legal guardian for 13-year-old actor Eddie Furlong, her nephew and one of the film’s key characters — said she was talking with a group of people when Schwarzenegger came up behind her and yanked her long, black hair.

Her head snapped back, she said. Although she was not injured, Tafoya said she was “shocked.” The people around her, she said, started laughing.

Tafoya said she was never touched in a sexual manner by Schwarzenegger, but she saw him push his body against a female crew member.

Tafoya said she was about 15 feet from Schwarzenegger when he approached a woman wearing jeans, a shirt and tennis shoes.

She said Schwarzenegger walked across the room and faced the woman. “Then he grabbed both sides of her knees and pushed them apart and started moving his pelvis into her,” Tafoya said. “It lasted about 10 seconds.” She said the woman laughed nervously, and Schwarzenegger walked away.

“I thought that was incredibly offensive, and I didn’t know who I was more annoyed with — him or her,” said Tafoya, a social worker. “But when I looked at her, I thought the woman didn’t have much choice, because it happened so quick.”

One woman who says she was deeply offended by Schwarzenegger’s words was a waitress at the now-defunct Bicycle Shop cafe on Wilshire Boulevard in West Los Angeles, where the actor used to hang out with about half a dozen friends on Sunday mornings in the late 1980s.

“They always sat in my section,” she said. The group was friendly and chatty with her, she said, and took their lead from Schwarzenegger. They tipped well, too. “There was definitely harmless flirtation with all of them,” said the woman, who also worked sporadically as a TV actress.

One Sunday, she said, she was pouring coffee at the table when Schwarzenegger beckoned her to his side.

“I bent down to listen to him,” she recalled. “He said, a little louder than a whisper, ‘I want you to do a favor for me.’ I thought, OK, maybe he wanted more bread. And he said, ‘I want you to go in the bathroom, stick your finger in your [vagina], and bring it out to me.’ ”

She stood upright. “I was thoroughly disgusted” but said nothing to Schwarzenegger, she recalled. “There was drama in the silence of it,” she said. “He looked up, and it looked like I was threatening [him] with the coffee pot.”

Everyone at the table then glanced over at the restaurant owner, Andre Driollet. He wagged his finger at the waitress, she said, apparently fearful that she was going to dump the coffee on Schwarzenegger.

“I was so appalled, and when Andre looked at me [as if] to say you better not, I immediately went to him to tell him what happened,” she recounted. What Schwarzenegger had said “was above and beyond what was acceptable. I think he should have had hot coffee poured in his lap.”

Driollet, who according to a relative is living on a boat in the Caribbean, could not be reached. In an interview with The Times, a friend of the waitress said she told him of the incident long ago.

The waitress said she told Schwarzenegger at the time: “If you’re ever some place and some woman throws hot coffee on your head, it will be me.” He laughed, she said.

“He thought it was the funniest thing. And then the whole table laughed because, if Arnold laughed, the whole table laughed.”

New York Daily News:

A rape victim interviewed by Maria Shriver in 1996 has come forward with shocking remarks she claims the newscaster made to her.

Shriver interviewed Karen Pomer for an hourlong 1996 “Dateline NBC” program about her kidnapping at gunpoint – a six-hour horror during which she was raped. Shriver spent close to three days with Pomer, then a documentary filmmaker and now a sexual-assault activist, who has come out against Arnold Schwarzeneger in the California race.

Pomer claims that, after a lengthy on-camera interview and in front of several witnesses, Shriver turned to her and “matter-of-factly” said:

“Karen, I can’t believe your boyfriend stayed with you. My husband wouldn’t go near me again. He would leave me, because I would be damaged goods.”

A spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger said she could not track down the candidate. She did reach Shriver. “It is something she would never say and never did say,” the spokeswoman said.

“The crew that was with Maria said it never happened,” added Sean Walsh, Schwarzenegger’s chief spokesman, who called later.

But a woman who accompanied Pomer to the Santa Monica interview also remembers Shriver’s statement. (The woman asked for anonymity.)

“Everyone sort of gasped,” said the eyewitness, “because that was sort of an odd thing to say about your husband, and plus we all knew who her husband was.”

Pomer said she found Shriver’s remark “insensitive.”

UPDATE: The L.A. Weekly’s Nikki Finke chimes in:

Talk about pathetic: The recall coverage gets uncuriouser and uncuriouser. Which just shows that, when it comes to Hollywood curiosities, history keeps repeating itself.

We had to wait for the book to learn the scope of David Begelman’s embezzlement. We had to wait for the book to learn the degree of Robert Evans’ amorality. We had to wait for the book to learn the parameter of Peter Guber’s and Jon Peter’s profligacy. We had to wait for the book to learn the extent of Don Simpson’s debauchery. Now we will have to wait for the book to learn everything there is to know about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character. Only this time, it’s California and not just the truth that’s suffering from what is clearly another Hollywood cover-up and a too-compliant media.

“He’s never going to run. Some of us have skeletons in their closet. He has monsters in his closet.” So said John Connolly, the freelance journalist who wrote that now infamous Premiere profile about Schwarzenegger alleging moral turpitude and sexual harassment, before Arnold announced his candidacy. Since then, the 55-year-old New Yorker has spent all the weeks of this recall campaign looking even deeper into the background of the actor whose next role is disturbingly likely to be governor. Where the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, ABC, CBS, NBC, and those other supposed bastions of superior reporting (why bother to even mention Fox?) claim to have found next to nothing, Connolly tells L.A. Weekly he has found a lot.

Which is why he’ll be shopping his book proposal about Ah-nuld right after the October 7 election.

And not a quickie paperback, either. After all, Schwarzenegger will be in office for another three years (if, and it’s a big “if,” there’s not another recall). So Connolly plans a big sprawling hardcover to tell the unvarnished story of the man, the myth, the musclehead, the migrant, the mogul, the misogynist, the monster, yada, yada, yada.

“I think I have very explosive information,” Connolly alleges. He wouldn’t give us details – he’s saving them for his book. But the point is there seems to be information on Arnold out there for any enterprising reporter to find. “In sex, in business, in his personal life, how he’s dealt with people over the years, it’s extraordinary,” Connolly says. “This couldn’t have happened in any place other than in Hollywood.”

After next Wednesday, the small window of opportunity that existed for any examination of Schwarzenegger’s character before the election will be gone for good. It was a sort of test of the emergency fact-finding network, and both Hollywood and journalism failed it miserably.

Hollywood circled the wagons and protected its own. Throughout the campaign, Schwarzenegger’s treatment of women on and off the set has been an issue. Still industry eyewitnesses are afraid to come forward for fear of being blacklisted.

So California’s CodePink feminist activists formally phoned Hollywood’s prestigious “Women in Film” group and asked if WIF would be willing to issue a statement: something sanitized that says it’s wrong for Hollywood to retaliate against women who make allegations of sexual harassment. “They said they would get back to me. That was about a week and a half ago,” CodePink organizer Karen Pomer told the Weekly.

More:

Premiere Magazine article (serious misbehavior)
Desire to shove Arianna Huffington’s face into a toilet

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About Brian Flemming

  • http://www.bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    I see Flemming is up to his old tricks, trying to do Gray Davis’ dirty work for him. Most of these allegations are decades old, come from people with a grudge against Arnold, have no corroboration, and didn’t lead to any sort of official complaint at the time.

    This is nothing more than a last-minute hit piece from the Davis supporters at the LA Times, the same people, no doubt, who concocted a phony poll last week claiming the recall was neck-and-neck.

    It’s all a bunch of crap, and women are smart enough to know it. Despite Flemming’s predictions, women didn’t turn on Arnold after he whacked Arianna, they turned in his favor, and they’ll see right through this tabloid crap.

    Brian Flemming, have you no shame?

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    Actually, it is conservatives who thought Clinton was horrible and now are supporting Anrold who have no shame.

    Arnold didn’t criticize Republicans for going after Clinton out of the goodness of his heart.

    And I hate to break it to you, but if Davis had been running the LA Times this and many more stories would have appeared earlier. And from their editorial Sunday, they don’t exactly sound like Davis supporters.

    Plus Kaus has been after them for weeks to run stories with dirt on Arnold (and helped bring the Oui interview to light).

    Ofcourse there is more than enough reason to oppose Arnold based on his positions and lack of experience alone.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    I’ll be surprised if Maria Shriver stays with Arnold after all of this becomes public knowledge. Then again, Hillary Clinton stayed with her man, and Kobe Bryant’s wife stayed with hers. I guess the “till death do us part” of marriage vows still mean something to some people, even if the “faithful” part doesn’t!

    Richard (#1), I enjoy your blog and your contrarian views, but while I agree that Brian is playing the scripted role of hysterical attack dog, that doesn’t answer the allegations. The question at hand is whether (1) they’re true, (2) the abuse of power displayed in the incidents is indicative of a problem that will affect Arnold’s term in office, and (3) whether his apparent uncontrolled horniness will affect any legistlative decisions he will make with regard to women. All three of these are debatable points, and it is amusing and sad that the allegations surfaced en masse five days before the election, and just before the weekend to boot, but they’re still issues which must be addressed.

    My guess is (1) yes, allowing for memory gaps and distortions and so on endemic in recalling events such as these years later, they did happen. The Shriver story actually sounds very weird, so I suspect the statement has been much warped over time, but the sentiment is probably still somewhat accurate. (2) On the one hand, Arnold wasn’t in office at the time, and so he could argue that he’ll be on better behavior now. On the other hand, if he gets away with it with no consequences, why should he change anything? That is, if they elect him knowing that he’s a groper, why shouldn’t he continue to grope? That would be his potential thinking, not mine. (3) Frankly, I doubt it. I know guys who would surely commit just such acts if they thought they could get away with it as Arnold obviously has, and yet some of the them will be the most passionate defenders of women, attackers of Kobe Bryant, and generally pro-women guys you’ll ever meet. Horniness doesn’t seem to translate in my experience into a lower view of women overall. Maybe it’s different when someone actually acts on those impulses, but I don’t know.

    Steve (#2), there has always been debate about the best time to leak dirty stories on political opponents. Too early and there is plenty of time for the candidate to smooth things over and voters to forget or quit caring. Too late and the candidate might have an insurmountable lead and “momentum”. So the timing of this is right in line with a “last-minute” full-court press from the Davis camp, or other Schwarzeneger opponents, like Arian Huffington. Isn’t this exactly why she dropped out, after all?

    As Brian said, this is just the beginning of the avalanche. Will any of it matter? I doubt it, but maybe. I’ve thought Arnold would win the day he announced, and I’ve yet to see any reason to think otherwise.

    Leaving aside the other merits and demerits of Arnold (since I no longer live in California), the best point you raise is the apparent hypocrisy of Clinton-hating Arnold defenders.

    I completely agree. While I can take the other side to a point and I completely understand the position that the Clinton debacle wasn’t just about sex, there is no question that many of the people who went after him did so while claiming that they were after him for lying and for personal reasons when really most of them just hated his politics.

    Now along comes a candidate with many of the same personal problems, though possibly a bit more honest, and the hypocrisy of the Republican attack dogs is revealed. They should have just admitted at the time that they disliked the man for political reasons and were using his personal weaknesses to bring him down. The misguided attempt to pretend to be above the political fray has officially backfired now, as far as I’m concerned.

    I didn’t even say that impeaching Clinton was wrong, just that I wish people would have been more honest about their motivations.

  • http://mcfrank.blogspot.com Chris Arabia

    Here’s my take on the Clinton aspect: I disagreed with the ruling that allowed the Jones case to go forward while he was in office. That stuff can wait.

    But once it went forward, Clinton’s lying under oath justified impeachment and removal, even though the China case was a better one for the GOP.

    People on both sides were pretty brazenly political, and obviously the Dems did a MUCH better job of arguing what could have been a tough case. The GOP was fragmented and did a poor job of arguing their case.

    In the end, Clinton’s victory created W., so I’d say it was fairly pyhrric win (sp?) for all dems except WJC.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Just updated the entry with an L.A. Weekly story.

    I (sort of) know Karen Pomer, and I have no reason to disbelieve her. She is very well respected among her peers. As far as I know, she has zero history of being caught in lies, and she has been in the public eye for a while now.

    Her story about Shriver didn’t pop up recently. She mentioned it closer to when it happened as well (although she kept Shriver’s identity a secret), and I don’t know about any “morphing” of the story.

    As a member/leader of CodePink, she is clearly partisan on this issue. However, that shouldn’t impeach her. Karen is a feminist activist–she would never slander another woman (especially a journalist who helped her nonprofit rape-victim-recovery organization, Rainbow Sisters, gain major attention) to score a few temporary points. If she gets caught in a lie about Shriver, no journalist would want to go near her again. Karen’s history indicates she’s way too smart to take such a risk.

    Even an analysis along the lines of self-interest would not indicate that Karen Pomer fabricated that story.

  • http://www.martinlitho.com Ralph Del Rio

    It’s an orchestrated attack by the LA Times and ABC. Everybody new it was coming. The guy spent half of his life with a fig leaf on and the other half as a mega superstar. Are we really surprized by this. By the way during the Clinton scandal what was the position of the LA Times and ABC?

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    Cokie broke the semen stained dress story on ABC. ABC really doesn’t take an editorial position. They probably covered it a bit more than the other networks.

    Believe me, this is not an orchestrated attack by ABC and the LA Times. The LA Times did it because Hollywood and California is their beat.

    ABC actually held back the interviews on racism Drudge trumpeted finally airing it on Monday (I think – I didn’t see it just a brief radio report) with very little impact.

    I hate to break it to you, but despite the conspiracy theories, people don’t sit around in newsrooms saying we are going to terminate Arnold.

    Hell, I bet a lot of journalists would like Arnold to win because he’ll be a major story to cover. If Davis pulls through, it will be rather anti-climatic.

  • http://64.33.59.128/cgi/ayashi/art115.html Grope Nato R

    After all’s said. Mr. groper is now Mr. CA.

  • http://www.cristycross.com Rachel

    There is no question that many of the people who went after him did so while claiming that they were after him for lying and for personal reasons when really most of them just hated his politics. Most of these allegations are decades old, come from people with a grudge against Arnold, have no corroboration.