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SAG-AFTRA Responds to Sarah Scott Sexual Harassment Complaint

SAG-AFTRA has responded to Sarah Scott’s allegation that she was sexually harassed by Kip Pardue by advising its 160,000 members how to deal with such circumstances.

In a message posted on the SAG-AFTRA website on Monday, the union did not address Scott’s specific allegations, citing the confidentiality requirements of its procedures. Instead, SAG-AFTRA posted an extensive member advisory Monday about how those procedures work.

“Confidentiality protects members,” it said. “In certain cases, our members choose to initiate member-to-member disciplinary proceedings in response to an incident. Our mission is to support the member who is reaching out to us for help in responding to an incident, while also providing fairness and due process. In order to protect our members, we must protect their privacy and uphold confidentiality during the course of the proceedings. This means SAG-AFTRA not commenting publicly when asked about confidential investigative, disciplinary or trial processes.”

Scott told the Los Angeles Times that Pardue had masturbated in front of her on May 16 during the filming of a pilot titled “Mogulettes” and asserted that SAG-AFTRA had been slow to respond to her complaint.

The “True Blood” actress alleged Pardue became aroused while they were under a bedsheet waiting for a scene to begin, then allegedly put her hand on his groin, called her into his dressing room and masturbated in front of her.

“I literally froze. I said, ‘What are you doing?'” the actress told the Times. She alleged that Pardue told her: “This isn’t a #MeToo thing. I’m not your employer. It’s not like I can fire you.”

Pardue told the Times through his representative that he apologized to Scott for putting her hand on his groin. “I never intended to offend her in any way and deeply regret my actions and have learned from my behaviour,” he added.

Scott said she reported the incident to SAG-AFTRA in May and found that while union officials were sympathetic, they did not respond quickly. “Speaking out about this has been extraordinarily difficult for me, and now I understand why so many don’t,” she said.

SAG-AFTRA announced in February that it had adopted a Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment that would set forth “clear expectations that SAG-AFTRA members will refrain from engaging in harassing conduct.”

See the full advisory below.

Member Advisory: Procedures Regarding Member-to-Member Complaints

SAG-AFTRA has established significantly expanded guidelines and processes regarding sexual harassment over the past year, as well as providing new and substantial support services uniquely for performers. In addition to those services and the other resources referred through SAG-AFTRA, some members also choose to make use of SAG-AFTRA’s member-to-member disciplinary complaint process to address incidents. Therefore, we believe it to be valuable to ensure that all members fully understand our process in member-to-member complaint situations:

·         Our innovative services are being used every day. We are resolving members’ concerns and providing support to those in crisis every day. SAG-AFTRA has created an exclusive service to directly assist our members who experience sexual harassment on a set. Administered by The Actors Fund, this service is the only hotline serving the entertainment industry specifically providing immediate clinical and therapeutic assistance.

·         Confidentiality protects members. In certain cases, our members choose to initiate member-to-member disciplinary proceedings in response to an incident. Our mission is to support the member who is reaching out to us for help in responding to an incident, while also providing fairness and due process. In order to protect our members, we must protect their privacy and uphold confidentiality during the course of the proceedings. This means SAG-AFTRA not commenting publicly when asked about confidential investigative, disciplinary or trial processes. You may have seen stories in the media about these matters, and that is why we are often unable to comment, in order to avoid divulging confidential information, even though the charging and charged members are free to comment publicly if they wish.

·         Due process matters and takes time. We believe in and support due process because every person is entitled to fair and equal treatment. It is crucial that we especially strive to ensure fairness because our job is to protect our members. Whenever members are involved in a dispute we do our best to get to the truth of the situation and to a sustainable resolution. That is naturally and appropriately a thoughtful and deliberate process that results in the best outcomes. Bringing a case through a member probable cause review and all the way to a disciplinary trial within less than a year, and in many cases a few months, allows the time to provide appropriate due process and also compares very favorably to timing of any other legal, court, or litigation processes.

·         Member input and oversight is essential to our process. We protect our members. It is important for people to know that at all stages of our member-to-member complaint process, we emphasize and facilitate member participation. We do this so that the process has oversight by your peers and all key decisions are made by members. We believe that this helps to ensure fairness and is one of our values as a member-led organization.

·         We employ highly trained and skilled professionals whose focus is supporting members during a difficult process. Very often that requires an extraordinary degree of sensitivity as well as an ability to work in a highly confidential environment.

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