Belfast Telegraph

Liam Neeson says Hoffman sexual assault allegations 'childhood stuff'

Northern Irish actor Liam Neeson has described allegations of sexual assault against Dustin Hoffman as "childhood stuff".

In an interview on Friday's edition of RTE's The Late Late Show, Liam Neeson was reflecting on his life in film, after this week being awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, which highlights the work of Irish people overseas.

Recent months have seen a mounting number of accusations of harassment and inappropriate behaviour against high-profile men in the entertainment industry, following allegations made against producer Harvey Weinstin.

Responding to the 'MeToo' movement, in which victims of sexual abuse are encouraged to speak out about their experiences, Mr Neeson said: "There is a bit of a witch-hunt happening too.

"There's some people, famous people, being suddenly accused of touching some girl's knee or something and suddenly they are being dropped from their programme or something."

He then mentioned the case of Garrison Keillor, who was fired from his long-running Minnesota Public Radio show last year - for what Mr Neeson claimed was placing his hand on a woman's back, an action he apologised for.

The Washington Post reports that coverage of allegations made against Mr Keillor are based on his first-hand account, as neither his alleged victim or former employer have spoken on the accusations against him.

Asked about allegations of sexual assault against Dustin Hoffman, Mr Neeson said: "I'm on the fence about that."

Mr Hoffman faces sexual misconduct allegations from two women, with a third woman accusing him of exposing himself to her in a hotel room while she was a teenager.

"Because when you're doing a play and when you're with your family. Other actors, technicians - you do silly things. You do silly things. And it becomes kind of superstitious. If you don't do it every night, you think it is going to jinx the show.

"I'd say Dustin Hoffman - I'm not saying I've done similar things like what he did - apparently touching a girl's breasts. But it's childhood stuff."

Mr Neeson said that the movement against sexual harassment was "healthy", and while "the focus seems to be on Hollywood at the minute" it is "across every industry". 

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