4 More Women Go Public Against Schwarzenegger
Four more women have come forward to say that Arnold Schwarzenegger fondled, spanked or touched them in incidents they said took place as recently as 2000 and as long ago as 1979.
In all, 15 women have now accused the Republican candidate for governor of grabbing or groping them. On the campaign trail Saturday, Schwarzenegger denounced as a “puke campaign” news reports that he has behaved abusively toward women.
The women who agreed Saturday to tell their stories publicly are:
* A 51-year-old woman who said Schwarzenegger pinned her to his chest and spanked her shortly after she met him at a West Los Angeles post-production studio in 2000.
* Tamee Smith, 46, who said Schwarzenegger followed her into a bathroom on a studio lot and grabbed her breast during work on the movie “Predator” in 1986.
* Jan Prinzmetal, 50, who said Schwarzenegger reached under her skirt and grabbed her bare buttocks outside a Venice gym in the mid-1980s.
* Elizabeth Rothner, 45, who said Schwarzenegger lifted her sweatshirt at a popular Santa Monica bar in 1979, exposing her bare breasts before a crowd.
The Times provided details of each of the new allegations to Schwarzenegger’s campaign Saturday. The candidate’s spokesman, Sean Walsh, said Schwarzenegger had said that the accounts of three of the women were untrue. Walsh said Schwarzenegger had no recollection of the alleged Venice gym incident.
“Arnold has acknowledged that at times his behavior, while good-natured, could be rowdy and bawdy,” Walsh said. “He has apologized to those who felt offended. Arnold has stated, when he began his campaign, that he did not live his life under the expectation that he would someday be governor.”
After The Times reported Thursday that Schwarzenegger had inappropriately touched women, he offered a general apology for “behaving badly” in the past, saying, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” He has denied that several of the specific incidents took place and said he had no recollection of others.
Ten of the women who have come forward have given their names. Five spoke on the condition that they not be named, saying they feared repercussions.
The woman who said Schwarzenegger spanked her in 2000 at the post-production studio said Saturday that she had decided to tell her story when the candidate seemed to dismiss the accounts of women who said he had groped them. Had he not run for governor, she said, she would never have come forward.
The woman said she wished to remain anonymous because she works in the entertainment industry.
In the summer of 2000, she was working part time at a West Los Angeles sound studio, where Schwarzenegger was doing post-production work on the film “The Sixth Day,” she said.
The woman said she had introduced herself to the actor in the recording studio and told him to let her know if he needed any coffee, juice or snacks. Shortly after she left the room, the woman said, Schwarzenegger and another man came out. The man said Schwarzenegger wanted his raisin bagel toasted, the woman said.
She said Schwarzenegger followed her to the kitchen, spun her around, pinned her to his chest and swatted her buttocks five or six times. Then, she said, he whispered in her ear: “This is what should happen at your house every morning.”
“I was so frightened and angry at the same time,” the woman said. “There was a certain sense of powerlessness.... I never commented [to him]. The level of embarrassment was pretty severe.”
When Schwarzenegger loosened his grip, the woman said, she ran out. But Schwarzenegger followed, grabbing her hands and commenting on her lack of a wedding ring, she said. As she started walking back to the recording studio, she said, Schwarzenegger told her: “By the way, I love it that you’re not wearing underwear.” The woman said that she retorted: “I am wearing underwear, you idiot.”
“It was playful for him,” she said. “It was not at all playful for me.”
The woman said she told the facility’s coordinator, Jeff Schwartz, about the incident but declined his offer to pursue the matter with his bosses. “I told him: I was a grown-up and I can handle it, but if anything like this happens again I’m going to take action.”
Schwartz, interviewed Saturday, said he remembered her complaint.
“She definitely was taken aback and shocked,” Schwartz said. “The big thing was that he actually smacked her on the butt. I definitely felt it was inappropriate.”
The woman said Schwarzenegger continued to harass her for the next two weeks, pulling her onto his lap, grabbing her hand and kissing it, or putting his hands on her shoulders. But at other times, she said, he was well-mannered and charming.
Smith said Schwarzenegger cornered and grabbed her while she was working as an assistant to a producer on the 1987 movie “Predator.” The Times contacted her after learning that she had related the incident in April 2002 at a panel discussion on women in Hollywood held on the USC campus.
Smith said the encounter occurred after location shooting, while actors were doing special-effects work in the Los Angeles area. She said Schwarzenegger had appeared at a producer’s office on the Fox studio lot, looking for her boss, who was not there. Schwarzenegger said he would wait, according to Smith.
Smith said that when she got up to use the bathroom, Schwarzenegger followed her. She said the two were alone in the office, which she described as a converted bungalow. “I wasn’t even all the way in. I don’t think the door was closed, and he was right behind me.” Smith said.
“He grabbed me from behind with his right hand. He clamped it over my boob and was wrestling with me. He was just basically saying he wanted me and I was saying, ‘No, no, no.’ ”
She said he then asked about her breasts: “ ‘Are they real? I want to know, are they real?’ He wouldn’t let go. I fought him. The size of his biceps coming across my chest, they were enormous. I couldn’t get away from him at all. It wasn’t until I said something about Maria” Shriver, his wife, she said, “that he dropped me, dropped me fast and walked out of the bathroom and out” of the bungalow.
Afterward, she said, she remained in the bungalow and cried. “I was upset,” she said. “I was scared. I was all those things. Eventually, my girlfriend came in, and I told her what happened.”
That girlfriend, Elaine Thompson, also a crew member on the film, told The Times that Smith was “very shaken.”
Thompson said Smith told her that Schwarzenegger “wasn’t violent but he definitely had sort of overpowered her in a way that she felt powerless.... I tried to say, this is just sometimes what Arnold does. I said, ‘You know what he’s like. You know how he kids around and makes off-color comments.’ ”
Thompson said that she, too, had been groped by Schwarzenegger during location filming in Mexico in 1986. She said she was posing for a picture with crew members of “Predator.”
“He came up behind me and just grabbed my breasts -- both of them,” she said.
“I didn’t think of it as being sexually harassed,” she said, adding that Schwarzenegger and the crew laughed. “It was one of those quick things that happened,” she said.
Smith said the incident in the bathroom had a lasting effect on her.
“Any time you make a woman feel that vulnerable or that overpowered, it changes you forever,” said Smith. “You think twice before you go into an alley. You think twice before you go into a restroom. Being overpowered is a life-changing thing.”
Schwarzenegger’s campaign sought to cast doubt on Smith’s account by arranging a phone interview with John Davis, a producer of “Predator.” Davis said he did not believe Schwarzenegger had been on the Fox studio lot during post-production work but could not rule it out.
Davis said he had worked with Schwarzenegger for years and had never seen him harass women.
“I’ve seen him as a trickster and a jokester. It’s part of his charm. The worst thing I ever saw him do is push a cupcake in my nose, and I thought it was funny,” Davis said.
Prinzmetal, who now lives in Vancouver, Canada, said she had decided to tell her story because of the recall election.
“If people want him in office, that’s fine,” she said. “But the way he treats women is not OK. I think it’s abominable.”
Prinzmetal said she exercised at the same Venice gym as the actor in the mid-1980s. There, she said, she saw him fondle women as they worked out. “He was just a groper and a feeler and a guy who was known for that,” she said.
One morning, Prinzmetal said, Schwarzenegger approached her in the gym parking lot. “He put his hand down my skirt, down my nylons, down my [under]pants and felt my bum,” she said.
Prinzmetal said, “I think I just scurried off to my car.”
Shortly afterward, Prinzmetal said, she told her daughter about what happened. The daughter, Jennifer Grant, now 29, confirmed that her mother had told her about the incident.
“I remember her talking to a friend about it, and I was in the room,” Grant said. “I asked, ‘What happened?’ and she said, ‘He got fresh with me, got aggressive with me.’ ”
Prinzmetal said she met Schwarzenegger a year or two before the incident and liked him. He had accompanied her in 1986 to the California Institute for Women in Frontera to talk about physical fitness, she said. Prinzmetal ran fitness programs for women prisoners as a volunteer. Schwarzenegger arrived with fellow actor Sven Ole-Thorsen and introduced himself to the prisoners who were assembled in a prison field.
“The first thing out of his mouth was, ‘Sven and you girls have something in common,’ ” then proceeded to make a lewd comment, she said. “That’s how he breaks the ice,” Prinzmetal said. “I’m turning purple. My superiors are there. The guards are there. But then he did a demonstration, and he was very kind about how exercising changed his life.... So I can say he tried to be a positive influence, in his negative, demeaning way toward women.”
The woman who said Schwarzenegger lifted up her sweatshirt in a crowded restaurant said she was a 21-year-old drama student at the time. One evening after class in 1979, she and a few other students went out to dinner at Merlin McFly’s, then a popular bar and restaurant on Main Street in Santa Monica.
While in the bar waiting for a table, Rothner said, she saw Schwarzenegger and a couple of companions walk in. “The next thing I know,” she said, “he approached.” She said she was wearing jeans and an oversized white sweatshirt with “Heaven” written across the chest in big red letters. She said she was not wearing a bra.
As he approached, Rothner said, she thought the bodybuilder was about to introduce himself. “Before I knew what happened, he said, ‘Are you Heaven?’ and then he just picked up my sweatshirt.”
“My breasts were exposed,” she said. “It was just really humiliating.”
Schwarzenegger, she said, “kind of just laughed and walked away.” None of her friends said anything either, she said. “Everyone was more or less intimidated by him,” she said. “I think he was Mr. Universe.”
Rothner, who now teaches children with autism and learning disabilities for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said she came forward after The Times reported last week that Schwarzenegger had groped women in incidents spanning nearly three decades.
“It just brought back all the memories,” she said. “I felt so violated, even though it wasn’t like rape or anything like that.”
At the time of the incident, Rothner said, she was living in Beverly Hills with her mother and told her about Schwarzenegger’s behavior as soon she got home. Her mother, Geraldine Rothner, said she remembered that her daughter was “horrified.”
“My reaction was, ‘What can you do? It’s over and done with,’ ” Geraldine Rothner said in an interview. “It’s been all these years, and it’s something you don’t forget.”
Times staff writers Megan Garvey and Robert J. Lopez contributed to this report.