Former child star Fred Savage, also known for his more recent work on Fox's The Grinder and ABC's Modern Family, is coming forward to publicly deny claims of physical assault that were recently made by a female member of The Grinder's wardrobe department. This is not the first time Savage has been at the center of serious allegations of physical or sexual assault, either. In January, Savage's former Wonder Years costar and TV mom Alley Mills came forward in an interview to deny the show ended because of allegations of sexual assault Savage (then 16) and his other costar, Jason Hervey (then 20) faced in 1993 from Monique Long, who worked in the show's costume department at the time.
Now, Savage is once again publicly tied up with yet another female crew member from another TV show he has worked on, and he is once again on the defensive. On Wednesday, Entertainment Tonight reported that Youngjoo Hwang, who worked in the wardrobe department on the set of The Grinder, filed a lawsuit against Savage in Los Angeles for assault, battery and harassment. She also came forward with a public statement about the alleged physical assault she endured at the hands of Savage and additionally claimed the network — Fox — might have been more concerned with protecting Savage despite Savage allegedly being both physically and verbally abusive toward her and other female crew members on set.
In Hwang's public statement, she alleged, "Savage was known to intimidate, bully and torment female crew members while they were performing their job duties."
Additionally, People magazine reported that during a press conference, Hwang stated, "Mr. Savage was aggressive towards me. He would routinely curse at me, yell at me, demean me when all I was trying to do [was] my job. It became more and more stressful for me to go to work because I was scared of the abuse and what I would have to encounter on any given day. I’m not the only [woman] on set that Mr. Savage target[ed]. There were others and this was well known on set," she told the press.
Hwang says she tried to go to those in charge with her complaints about Savage's treatment of her, but she was allegedly not listened to, and finally, she hit her breaking point when Savage "violently struck" her three times with his hand while she was attempting to remove dandruff from his jacket in between filming.
Savage sent a response to People shortly after Hwang's allegations came to light. The statement includes Savage's acknowledgment of the bravery of victims who have come forward in recent months with their own stories of sexual and physical assault, but he denies Hwang's claims completely.
"I have witnessed tremendous courage over these past few months, watching brave women who have come forward publicly fighting through the shame and stigma of harassment," Savage writes. "I’ve seen first-hand the growing support in this movement that has always felt so lacking. As someone who has always tried to live honorably and with integrity, it never dawned on me that my name could be on the other side."
He continues: "I was made aware that a woman working in the costume department of a show I was on almost three years ago has claimed that I treated her harshly on set simply because she was a woman. These accusations are completely without merit and absolutely untrue. Fox conducted an extensive internal investigation into her claims, a process in which I fully participated. After concluding a thorough investigation, Fox determined that there was absolutely no evidence to support these accusations. None of her claims could be substantiated because they did not happen," he states.
Savage goes on to conclude, "I have been working in the entertainment industry my whole life and have always endeavored to treat everyone on any set I work on respectfully and professionally. While none of the accusations being leveled at me are true, I wholeheartedly support all people who feel they are being mistreated come forward and speak to human resources and those in charge,” Savage says. “We have witnessed so much bravery from those speaking out recently, but I will just as boldly protect myself and my family from those seeking to tarnish my good name. I cannot let these people, in particular, denigrate me while harming the message of thousands of women and others who have suffered and continue to suffer."
People also reports that Fox is choosing to support Savage over Hwang in this matter, which might be disconcerting to most, but is also, sadly, not too surprising. That a major studio would choose to support the man who faces serious allegations rather than remaining neutral or (dare it be thought?) perhaps show a modicum of support for the female complainant in this situation is certainly not worthy of any surprise these days. We can only hope that despite a pattern of behavior described by more than one woman about Savage's behavior coming to light over the course of his career, these women can find a bit of justice and resolution despite having gone through great pain to bring these allegations forward.
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