Fred Savage, the actor and director best known for starring on The Wonder Years, has been accused of harassment and assault by YJ Hwang, a former wardrobe department crew member on the Fox sitcom The Grinder, TMZ reports. She's filing a lawsuit against Savage and studio 20th Century Fox for assault, battery, gender harassment and gender discrimination.
The alleged incident occurred during production on the comedy, which ran from 2015 to 2016 and starred Savage and Rob Lowe. Hwang says that Savage created a hostile work environment for her by regularly berating her in front of other people. It reportedly came to a head one day when she went to brush dandruff off Savage's jacket while he was wearing it and he allegedly became enraged and "violently struck" her three times in the arm.
Fox also denied the claims and said that an investigation into Hwang's allegations found "no evidence of any wrongdoing" on Savage's part.
Savage denied the accusations in a statement obtained by TV Guide. In it, the actor expresses support for the #MeToo movement while claiming that he never mistreated Hwang:
"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. 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.
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.
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. 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."
Fox also released a statement. "Fox takes all allegations of improper conduct very seriously. We conducted a thorough investigation into these allegations and found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Savage. We will vigorously defend against these unfounded claims," a studio representative said in a statement.
Hwang and her attorney Anahita Sedaghatfar gave a press conference Wednesday expanding on Hwang's claim against Savage, alleging that he verbally abused other women on set as well and accusing Fox of brushing off her claims.
Hwang said she was employed as a set costumer on The Grinder tasked with maintaining Savage's outfits.
"From the outset of the show, Mr. Savage was aggressive towards me," she said. "He would routinely curse at me, yell at me, demean me, when all I was trying to do was my job." It became increasingly difficult for her to go to work, as she was afraid of what Savage would do or say to her on any given day.
"I'm not the only woman on set that Mr. Savage targeted," she said. "There were others, and this was well known on set."
She expanded on what happened when Savage allegedly hit her, saying that he exploded on her when she touched him, and struck her in the arm with an open palm three times, which humiliated her and caused her to burst into tears. She says she immediately reported the incident to her superiors, but they encouraged her to not report Savage because if she did, a lot of people would lose their jobs and she would be blacklisted from ever working in the entertainment industry again. "My complaints were ignored, the violence perpetrated against me was ignored, and I was made to feel as if I had done something wrong," she said.
"It took everything I had in me to be here today and to speak out," she said. "I was inspired by the #MeToo movement and the women before me and I'm here hopefully to encourage other women to come forward and speak their truth."
Hwang's attorney Sedaghatfar claimed that Fox never actually investigated Savage over Hwang's accusations. She also encouraged other women who may have been abused by Savage to get in touch with her.
This is not the first time Savage has been accused of harassment on set. In January, The Wonder Years star Alley Mills says a sexual harassment suit by a costumer designer against Savage and his co-star Jason Hervey led to the show's demise in 1993. Savage denied those allegations at that time, and the suit was settled out-of-court. Mills also maintains that the allegations were untrue.