Liam Neeson says ‘witch hunt’ in Hollywood over sex allegations

Actor Liam Neeson attending the New York premiere of The Commuter at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on Jan 8, 2018.
Actor Liam Neeson attending the New York premiere of The Commuter at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on Jan 8, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES - Hollywood movie star Liam Neeson has dismissed the wave of sexual misconduct allegations in the entertainment industry as "a bit of a witch hunt", and asserted that breast groping was "childhood stuff" in a TV interview.

Speaking on The Late Late Show on Irish TV channel RTE, Neeson said: "There's some people, famous people, being suddenly accused of touching some girl's knee, or something, and suddenly they're being dropped from their programme, or something".

"It's a bit of a witch-hunt," he said when asked what he thought about the allegations of serial sexual assault in the industry, reported The Guardian.

Neeson referred to the recent case of Garrison Keillor, a writer and broadcaster who was fired by Minnesota Public Radio late last year, to illustrate his point.

Keillor was fired over allegations of "inappropriate behaviour with an individual who worked with him". Neither the radio station nor Keillor's accuser publicly disclosed the allegations that led to his dismissal.

In the interview, Neeson echoed Keillor's version of events, which framed them as a well-intentioned misunderstanding.

Keillor told a local newspaper following his dismissal: "I put my hand on a woman's bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologised. I sent her an e-mail of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me... We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called."

Neeson also indicated he was "on the fence" about accusations against fellow movie star Dustin Hoffman, saying that what he had been accused of was "childhood stuff".

Hoffman has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, of exposing himself to a minor, and sexual harassment.

"When you're doing a play and you're with your family - other actors, technicians - you do silly things... and it becomes kind of superstitious, if you don't do it every night you think it's going to jinx the show," said Neeson.

However, Neeson distanced himself from Hoffman's alleged behaviour, saying: "I'm not saying I've done similar things to what he's done."