Update: Timothy Hutton’s representatives have shared the following statement from him with IndieWire on his behalf: “For the past two-and-a-half years, I have been the target of multiple extortion attempts by a woman named Sera Dale Johnston to extract millions of dollars from me. She threatened that if I did not meet her demands, she would go to the press with a false allegation that I sexually assaulted her 37 years ago in Canada. I never assaulted Ms. Johnston,” he said.
“Today, BuzzFeed chose to publish Ms. Johnston’s false story. BuzzFeed knew the truth because they were provided with documented evidence. What’s really going on here is that Ms. Johnston’s extortion attempts failed. She then decided to follow through on her threat to go to the press with her false story. When I became aware of this, I went to the FBI, signed a sworn statement, and filed a criminal complaint against Ms. Johnston for extortion. I will not stop fighting to expose this story for what it is – a failed extortion attempt based on something that never happened.”
Hutton’s defamation counsel added that they will be sending BuzzFeed a legal retraction demand. “If BuzzFeed wrongfully refuses to retract the article, Tim is prepared to take any and all necessary steps, including the filing of a defamation lawsuit, to clear his name and to hold BuzzFeed and Ms. Johnston accountable for their reckless and self-serving efforts to destroy Tim’s reputation and career,” Tom Clare, Hutton’s counsel, said.
Earlier: Oscar-winning actor Timothy Hutton is facing accusations from a woman that he raped her when she was 14 years old in 1983. According to the alleged victim, Sera Johnston, as detailed in a BuzzFeed News report published Monday afternoon, Hutton assaulted her during the making of the film “Iceman.” Johnston said that she and two friends were invited to Hutton’s hotel room, where the alleged assault occurred. Johnston claims she was raped by Hutton, then in his 20s, and one of his friends. The incident allegedly occurred in Vancouver, where Johnston filed a criminal report with the police last year.
Hutton and his team — who have yet to respond to IndieWire’s request for comment — deny the accusations in the report. In the BuzzFeed story, a report from Hutton’s lawyers says the actor “will not spend one more minute dignifying these allegations as they are patently false and designed only to extort money from him.” The statement also takes issue with Johnston’s narrative, which “provided salacious, heinous, and graphic details of this made-up sexual encounter that supposedly occurred 36 years ago. Although these were disgusting details any smut fiction writer could conjure up,” the attorney argues there is no evidence to support the claims, labeling Johnston’s story as “fabricated,” “patently false, scurrilous, and defamatory statements.”
In the wake of the report, Hutton has reportedly hired two law firms and three spokespeople to represent him, and has provided BuzzFeed with detailed information in the form of a 91-page letter intended to discredit Johnston.
“As proof, they cite the fact that she didn’t raise the issue until 2017, 34 years after she claims the incident took place — and when she did raise it, she hired a lawyer to pursue a financial settlement rather than going to the police,” said the story penned by Adam B. Vary and Kate Arthur, both of whom are now employed by Variety full time — the legal vetting of such a piece can take an extremely long amount of time, even until its authors are employed elsewhere. “They point to the fact that she has no eyewitness to the alleged assault itself. Most damning of all, they said, is the fact that last March, an ex-boyfriend of hers reached out to the man she said assaulted her alongside Hutton and offered to personally broker some sort of deal.”
Back in 2017, Hutton did agree to a payout of $135,000, according to Johnston, whose lawyer suggested she go after him for $1.5 million.
The BuzzFeed story features testimony from several witnesses who corroborated her story. That includes Johnston’s mother, once a set decorator, who regrets not having gone to the police in 1983.
Timothy Hutton was most recently seen in “The Glorias” at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. IndieWire has reached out to director Julie Taymor, and the film’s distributor, Roadside Attractions, for comment.
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