by Corinne Heller | Wed., Jun. 6, 2018 1:52 PM
UPDATE at 1:52 p.m. PT: THe Hollywood Foreign Press Association issued a statement in response to Brendan Fraser's comments, which states, "The HFPA continues to stand firmly against sexual harassment. As such, we have always taken Brendan Fraser's allegations very seriously—both when he originally spoke out in 2003 and now again 15 years later. Back then, after an initial inquiry, we provided Mr. Fraser with the exact redress he sought—an acknowledgement of the transgression and an apology. Mr. Fraser continued to attend HFPA events including the Golden Globes."
"When Mr. Fraser raised the allegations again this year in the March issue of GQ, adding several previously unknown details, we conducted an internal review and then took it upon ourselves to commission an independent investigation into the matter to ensure impartiality," the statement said. "We've shared the results of that investigation with Mr. Fraser, and again apologized, but also conveyed our need to abide by the investigation's finding that the exchange was not an intended sexual advance. We want to reiterate that the HFPA understands today—as it did 15 years ago—that what Mr. Fraser experienced was inappropriate."
Brendan Fraser says an investigation by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that presents the Golden Globes, disputes his account of sexual harassment by one of its members and wanted him to agree that the man touched him inappropriately as a joke, not as a sexual advance.
Philip Berk, the journalist in question and a former president of the group, has denied any wrongdoing. He remains a member of the organization.
Fraser had claimed Berk had grabbed his butt at a group event in 2003. In a GQ interview published this past February, he said he demanded and received a written apology from him. Berk told the outlet that the actor's account is a "total fabrication" and that he gave him an apology that "admitted no wrongdoing." GQ reported that Berk had written about the incident in his memoir and had stated that he had pinched the Mummy star's butt in jest.
After the interview was published, the HFPA launched an investigation into Fraser's claims about the journalist, which were made as a slew of celebs, mostly women, publicly accused powerful men of sexual misconduct. In March, in a E! News interview, Fraser said, "I can go forward now and I feel good that I was inspired by others with courage and I was able to speak what I needed to say and it's a new time, it's a new era and I think some change that's good is going to come about. I'm optimistic. I'm hopeful."
In an article published on Wednesday, GQ quoted Fraser as saying that the HFPA's investigation has since ended and that they proposed issuing a joint statement that read, "Although it was concluded that Mr. Berk inappropriately touched Mr. Fraser, the evidence supports that it was intended to be taken as a joke and not as a sexual advance."
He said the organization also apologized to him in the proposed statement, which also allegedly stated, "All parties consider this matter to be concluded" and that the HFPA looks forward "to continuing to work with Mr. Fraser."
Fraser said he declined to sign on to the proposed joint statement, adding, "I don't get the joke."
Fraser said an independent investigator interviewed him about the incident in April. He said he wanted to see the person's report so he would know what he was signing off on and that the HFPA declined, instead providing him with a summary of the findings.
Berk told GQ he did not face any disciplinary action from the HFPA and was not shown the investigator's findings or the proposed joint statement, adding, "But [I was] told the statement would absolve me of any wrongdoing."
Fraser told GQ he now wants "to end this episode, this chapter, in my own life and career and move on, just as I'm hopeful that others will be able to in years to come."