The story behind Brett Ratner continues to get worse. In a very long article posted yesterday we went into the allegations against the director filed by multiple actresses including Olivia Munn and Ellen Page. It appears that New Line might have known about Ratner's behavior as far back as 2005 according to Variety.
Terri Goddard was an assistant back in 2005 and described Ratner as "notorious" around her office and was always "ogling the assistants, invading their space, and making them uncomfortable." She says that it was so bad that it caused several other assistants complained to HR and only then did it get better.
"It's humiliating to be objectified when you're trying to do your work," she said. "People were just appalled."
Ratner's attorney has denied that these allegations ever happened.
"Brett wasn't aware of any report being filed against him by anyone at New Line," said the attorney, Andrew Brettler of Lavely & Singer. "No one came to Brett to tell him he needed to curb his behavior."
Ratner never worked for New Line but he was the director behind three big movies (Rush Hour, Money Talks, Rush Hour 2) so he was considered one of the "big boys" at the company. New Line had a bit of a reputation of being a "boys club" according to a former New Line assistant named Eric Stauble.
In addition to Goddard, five other former New Line employees said they either witnessed or were told about Ratner's harassment at the time. Stauble said that Goddard complained about it to him. During that period, he said New Line had a reputation as a boys' club. The culture was documented in a 1998 article in Premiere Magazine, which detailed numerous complaints from female executives.
"This was kind of the heyday of when a lot of this stuff was going on," Stauble said. "There was a blind eye turned."
The other three former employees have decided not to give their names but Goddard decided to come forward when people began to question why no one ever complained about Ratner's behavior when the LA Times article was published. Warner Bros said in a statement that they were unable to find the record of the complaints from 2005.
"We have no evidence of any claim filed in this matter," a spokesman said.
Ratner's attorney's have continued to deny that any of this has happened.
"I have represented Mr. Ratner for two decades, and no woman has ever made a claim against him for sexual misconduct or sexual harassment," Singer wrote in an Oct. 31 letter to Variety.
Goddard said she began working at New Line in 2005 and Ratnet would come in for meetings and flirt with the assistants who sat in a row in front of the executive offices.
"It was someone leaning over your desk, in your personal space, looking at your body up and down with a smile on their face," Goddard said. She said Ratner would badger her with questions about her personal life and relationship status. Goddard said that because Ratner was so important to New Line that she felt pressure to be polite with him. "You have to pander to it," she said. "And you're trying to pander to it to make it go away."
Goddard said she was interviewed by HR and assured that corrective measures were going to be taken. Ratner stopped harassing her but he was not happy that someone reported him.
"He would come in and give me a dirty look," she said. "He knew something had been said."
It appears that this situation is one of those "open secrets" that people have known about for years and that some were even wiling to approach in a professional matter. That didn't stop Warner Bros or New Line from working with Ratner for many years to come with Warner Bros only now severing their contract after the LA Times story broke earlier this month. It shouldn't take public shaming for companies to take action against alleged serial abusers. They shouldn't want to work with people like that in the first place because it makes other employees feel unsafe. There is not a director or producer or actor alive that is worth making the people on the ground, the ones who do the grunt work, feel unsafe or uncomfortable at work.