Cori Thomas was in high school when she says Dustin Hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room. Melissa Kester was a recent college graduate when Hoffman allegedly sexually assaulted her while recording audio for the film “Ishtar.” A third woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Hoffman assaulted her in the back of a station wagon and manipulated her into a subsequent sexual encounter that left her traumatized.
Speaking to Variety, the women described predatory incidents involving Hoffman that fit into a pattern of alleged behavior that has emerged in the wake of previous sexual-misconduct claims against the now 80-year-old actor.
Representatives for Hoffman did not make him available to provide comment for this story. In a letter to Variety’s owner Penske Media Corp., Hoffman’s attorney Mark A. Neubauer of Carlton Fields Jordan Burt called the accusations against the actor “defamatory falsehoods.”
Thomas was 16 years old and a high-school classmate of Hoffman’s daughter Karina at the United Nations International School in New York when she met the actor in 1980. An aspiring actor, she had spent a Sunday afternoon with Karina and Hoffman walking in Manhattan — visiting the Drama Bookshop, where, she said, Hoffman bought her a copy of Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story,” and eating dinner at Jim McMullin’s on the Upper East Side, where she had veal piccata for the first time. They also visited the San Remo on Central Park West, where Hoffman, in the midst of a divorce from his first wife, Anne Byrne, was buying an apartment. Hoffman showed Thomas and Karina the apartment, which was being renovated while Hoffman stayed at a hotel near the house that he and Byrne had shared.
“This was at first one of the greatest days of my life,” she said. “One of my idols was spending time with me and talking with me respectfully.”
Thomas’ parents — her father was the U.N. ambassador from Liberia — were supposed to pick her up at the restaurant. But, according to Thomas, Hoffman suggested that the three of them wait at the hotel where he was staying and leave a note for Thomas’ parents with the maitre d’ saying they had gone to the hotel. After the three arrived at Hoffman’s hotel room, “Either Karina or Dustin suggested that [Karina] should go home” to Hoffman and Byrne’s house nearby, Thomas said, “because it was a school night and she had homework. So she left, and I was left in the hotel room with him alone.”
Shortly after Karina departed, according to Thomas, Hoffman went to the restroom. She heard the shower turn on. “I was just sitting there waiting for my parents,” Thomas said.
After several minutes, “He came out of the bathroom with a towel at first wrapped around him, which he dropped,” Thomas said. “He was standing there naked. I think I almost collapsed, actually. It was the first time I had ever seen a naked man. I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do. And he milked it. He milked the fact that he was naked. He stood there. He took his time.”
Hoffman eventually put on a robe and sat on the bed, according to Thomas, who said that he then asked her to massage his feet. She complied.
“I didn’t know what to do in the circumstance,” she said. “I didn’t know that I could say no, so I did it. And he kept telling me, ‘I’m naked. Do you want to see?’” Thomas said that she pretended not to hear Hoffman as he made suggestive comments to her.
“What saved me was that the phone rang, and it was my mother downstairs to pick me up,” Thomas said. “So I left.” She did not tell her mother about the story until decades later. “I was humiliated. My mother always had some instinct that something untoward had happened. She kept asking me, and I was so mortified, I never said anything.” Speaking to Variety, Thomas’ mother recalled arriving at the restaurant, receiving the note, then picking her daughter up at the hotel. She recalled being concerned that her daughter had been alone in the room with Hoffman.