Richard Dreyfuss, best known for performances in “Jaws” and “Close in Encounters of the Third Kind,” has been accused of sexual harassment by Los Angeles-based writer Jessica Teich. The writer revealed in an interview with Vulture that Dreyfuss exposed himself to her in his trailer during a period of time when the two were working on the 1987 ABC comedy special “Funny, You Don’t Look 200: A Constitutional Vaudeville.” Dreyfuss was producing, co-writing, and hosting the event.
Teich came forward with her story about Dreyfuss after the actor tweeted in support of his son, Harry Dreyfuss, who told Buzzfeed that he was groped by Kevin Spacey when he was 18 years old. Richard Dreyfuss said he had never been more proud of his son for coming forward, to which Teich told Vulture: “When I read about his support for his son, which I would never question, I remember thinking, ‘But wait a minute, this guy harassed me for months.'”
Teich says the harassment occurred when she was in her mid-20s. Dreyfuss was 12 years older and married with a child at the time of the alleged harassment. The two had been working on the script for the ABC comedy special since 1984 when she says Dreyfuss invited her to talk about the project on the set of a movie he was working. When she arrived at his trailer, the actor allegedly exposed himself to her.
“I remember walking up the steps into the trailer and turning towards my left,” Teich says, “and he was at the back of the trailer, and just — his penis was out, and he sort of tried to draw me close to it. He was hard. I remember my face being brought close to his penis. I can’t remember how my face got close to his penis, but I do remember that the idea was that I was going to give him a blow job. I didn’t, and I left.”
The encounter would be one of many alleged instances of sexual harassment Teich faced from Dreyfuss. She says he would try and kiss in her professional settings and slip her “I love you” notes during business meetings. The two would travel a lot during the development process for the comedy special. One morning in Washington D.C., Dreyfuss allegedly told Teich that he had spent the night with his ear next to the wall listening to her movements in the hotel room next to his.
“He has that way of sidling up to you and saying things like, ‘I want to fuck you,'” she told Vulture. “That was said all the time. He would constantly steer conversations to this yucky, insinuating thing, and I would sort of try to pull us back to a place where we could actually get some work done.”
When reached for comment by Vulture, Dreyfuss issued the following repsonse:
I value and respect women, and I value and respect honesty. So I want to try to tell you the complicated truth. At the height of my fame in the late 1970s I became an asshole–the kind of performative masculine man my father had modeled for me to be. I lived by the motto, “If you don’t flirt, you die.” And flirt I did. I flirted with all women, be they actresses, producers, or 80-year-old grandmothers. I even flirted with those who were out of bounds, like the wives of some of my best friends, which especially revolts me. I disrespected myself, and I disrespected them, and ignored my own ethics, which I regret more deeply than I can express. During those years I was swept up in a world of celebrity and drugs – which are not excuses, just truths. Since then I have had to redefine what it means to be a man, and an ethical man. I think every man on Earth has or will have to grapple with this question. But I am not an assaulter.
I emphatically deny ever “exposing” myself to Jessica Teich, whom I have considered a friend for 30 years. I did flirt with her, and I remember trying to kiss Jessica as part of what I thought was a consensual seduction ritual that went on and on for many years. I am horrified and bewildered to discover that it wasn’t consensual. I didn’t get it. It makes me reassess every relationship I have ever thought was playful and mutual.
Teich told Vulture that she told three people about the harassment over the years: A family member, a close confidant, and her therapist. Both the family member and the confidant confirmed they heard the story. The therapist declined to comment due to doctor-patient confidentiality.