Hugh Hefner Was Allegedly 'Playboy' 's 'Predator Number One'

Secrets of Playboy details firsthand accounts of alleged rapes by the magazine mogul, including a Playmate of the Year who was "brutalized" and "psychically destroyed" by Hefner, per Mansion insiders

Hugh Hefner

A&E's docuseries Secrets of Playboy has spent weeks chronicling the network of alleged sexual abusers in Hugh Hefner's A-list orbit, and the latest episode set its sights on Hefner himself, declaring him the Playboy empire's "Number One Predator."

"It wasn't just Hefner's buddies, his friends, the big VIPs," claims PJ Masten, who worked for Playboy from 1972–82 and dated the head of Playboy security. "It was Hefner himself."

On Monday's installment, several eye witnesses — including one woman who claims she was drugged and raped by Hefner — share what Hefner was allegedly capable of within the walls of his self-contained sexual playground, the Playboy Mansion.

(PEOPLE has not independently verified the allegations reported in the episode, and A&E advises viewers, "The vast majority of allegations have not been the subject of criminal investigations or charges, and they do not constitute proof of guilt.")


'It's Safe Here'

Susie Krabacher, then known as Susie Scott, claimed she was 17 years old when she posed for the May 1983 Playmate of the Month centerfold, which Playboy waited to publish until she was 18 years old — a common practice for the magazine, according to other Playmates.

She'd left her home in Alabama at age 15 after years of alleged sexual abuse by her grandfather, and she wanted to make enough money to help her brother join her in Los Angeles.

"I did believe that what I was doing was wrong," she admitted, "but I thought, you know, 'God's gonna forgive me. I need this opportunity, and I'll never be able to make this kind of money.'"

She recalled, "When I came to Playboy, I thought that doing the centerfold was kind of like getting my power back. I had it for a moment, but it was taken right back."

Krabacher moved into the Playboy Mansion in 1983 and was torn. She was still processing her childhood trauma but at the same time she recognized she should advocate for herself to become Playmate of the Year because it was a bigger platform and meant she would have greater financial security.

She mostly kept to herself, which Hefner noticed, telling her, "I want you to know it's safe here, and I want you to know that you can do anything you want. If there's anything you want to experiment with, then you just need to let us know because we want you to be safe."

One day, at the urging of another live-in friend, she headed to Hefner's bedroom to make the case that she should be named Playmate of the Year.

Sensing she was nervous, Hefner offered "something to calm you down," said Krabacher.

"I just took it, not thinking much about it," she said of the pill and soda Hefner allegedly gave her. "At first it didn't dawn on me that it was a drug."

Almost instantly, she had second thoughts, realizing she should have asked what she'd just taken. Now she believes it was a quaalude, which Hefner's ex Holly Madison said she "saw him offer to people all the time."

Susie Krabacher
Susie Krabacher. A&E

Krabacher's memories of the time period after she took the pill are spotty.

"I don't remember laying down," she said. "I don't remember if I even said anything to him about Playmate of the Year. I woke up with him on top of me. He was naked, and my pants were off, my pajama bottoms were off. I thought that I was having a nightmare because it didn't seem possible."

She continued, "I thought I was reliving the last time that my grandfather had done this to me. ... This old man with his mouth gaping open was a real thing. He was a real person, it was Hefner. He looked like Satan. ... He honestly had the same look that my grandfather had when he did it. I can't tell you. There must be, like, some common demon that gets in and looks the same because it was eerie, it was just eerie."

She has since questioned what motivated the alleged assault.

"Maybe it's because I didn't show him a lot of attention. Maybe I was one of the few who he had not slept with, and maybe he didn't like that," she said.

"The next morning, I was so ashamed, I wanted to just die," she remembered.

She claimed she confided in Marilyn Grabowski, one of Playboy's top editors at the time, and that Grabowski told her, "It's nothing, he won't even remember it." (According to A&E, "Marilyn Grabowski has stated that the allegations about her comments are untrue.")

"He was so good at making you feel like you were the only thing in the world, and the most beautiful thing in the world — until the next Playmate came along, and he didn't care if you were broken, anorexic, addicted," claimed Krabacher.

In the aftermath of the alleged assault, she internalized her trauma by restricting her food intake, ultimately dropping down to 90 pounds — not least of which because "this whole thing had to be a secret, a secret that I had to see all the time. You know, I looked up that hallway and I'd think about it, but then I'd have to put that smile on and when I saw Hef give him a hug. He never mentioned it. The only explanation is that he was hiding it from me. To make me doubt that it happened, maybe. To make me forget about it — but you don't forget."

She acknowledged, "This thing that happened with Hef set me back a long way. ... I was disappointed in myself that I put myself in the position that he could have had access to me. I tried so hard for so long to not be the stereotype."

sondra theodore secrets of playboy
Sondra Theodore. A&E

The Skeleton Key

Sondra Theodore, another ex-girlfriend, claimed that Hefner's sense of ownership over the women in his house manifested itself in even more nefarious ways.

She said Hefner had a skeleton key to every room in the Mansion that he used "at will." One night, he asked her to join him as he walked around the house.

"He opened the door on a girl who was sleeping, and he went inside and sat down in the bed with her. At that point, I'm just frozen, I didn't know what to do."

Theodore said the woman rebuffed Hefner's advances, but "the minute she said no, he continued and forced himself on her." She recalled the incidents through tears, especially upset about her complicity in the alleged assault.

"And he told me when we were heading back to the master, he said to me, 'Well, did they think that they were going to come stay at my house and not sleep with me?' Whether they consented or not, if he wanted something, he would take it," she said.

Theodore and Stefan Tetenbaum, Hefner's valet from 1978–81, claimed that the various alleged assaults they witnessed fit into a larger predatory pattern for Hefner.

According to Tetenbaum, "At the Mansion, the process was, you first meet Hefner, you have sex with him, and then he passes you around to his friends. You don't violate this order of sexual activity."

"Hef like the girls young," noted Theodore, "and he liked them from a broken family where there wasn't a father involved because he could impress them and control them more, because they would be more likely to please him or please his friends."

Echoed Tetenbaum, "Hefner enjoyed taking these fresh girls and breaking them."


'Don't Mess with the Sheriff's Girl'

According to Playboy Mansion insiders, no woman was off limits for Hefner.

Dorothy Stratten — whose story was told in detail in episode 6, "The Corporation" — was a rising star in a serious relationship (albeit with a man named Paul Snider, who has been characterized by many as "a lowlife pimp") when she went from working as a Bunny at the Century City, Calif., Playboy Club to being named 1980 Playmate of the Year within the span of a year.

"Hefner, he particularly wanted her because he knew that she had the potential to be a big star," recalled Miki Garcia, Playboy's Head of Promotions from 1973–82.

But rumors began to circulate that Stratten had slept with producer and party regular Patrick Curtis, which allegedly angered the master of the Mansion.

Hefner's home functioned "like a town in the Old West where every girl in town is the Sheriff's girl, and you're told, 'You don't want to mess with the Sheriff's girl,'" said Hefner's friend Richard Bann.

According to Tetenbaum, the price for Stratten's misstep was "being brutalized."

Julian Wasser/Online USA Inc./Getty.

Tetenbaum said he was walking the grounds with a member of Playboy's security team when he heard screams. When he looked into one of the Mansion's most infamous hook-up spots, he says he saw Hefner with Stratten.

"There was a ledge around the Grotto. Hefner propped her up and he started to rape her anally, and she was screaming," claimed Tetenbaum. "After we witnessed it, the security guard ... whispered in my ear [that] I should go back into the butlers' pantry and keep my mouth shut. And that's what I did. You had to follow the rules. You had to be discreet, be quiet, carry on. Nobody was going to come forward because nobody wanted Hefner to come after you."

Because of that night, said Tetenbaum, "Dorothy Stratten was devastated, she was psychically destroyed."

Tetenbaum believes that "Hefner wanted to stay in control. ... He became a typical rich guy using his money to buy women, to control women. Hefner thought that if he could abuse her over and over again, against her wishes, that he could get control of her."

Garcia believes that Hefner "never wanted a woman to become so powerful that he couldn't control her. And it was so wrong and so against what he espoused to everyone — I mean, all about protecting women and non-exploitation. All that, that was nothing but garbage."

Added Garcia, "I think he hated women underneath it all."

Susie Krabacher
Susie Krabacher. A&E

'I Can't Be Alone in This Pain'

Krabacher acknowledged that she has faced a question lobbed at many survivors of sexual assault: "People would ask me, 'Why did you keep going back? Why did you keep going back?'"

She explained, "I just think it was a complete [situation where] you want him not to have ruined your life by also taking your employment."

Tetenbaum's wife, Stella, similarly homed in on how financial factors play into criticism of women who speak up. "In the old days, it was like, 'Well who are you? You're just after his money.' That was always the thing: 'You're after his money,'" she said. "And they would side with, you know, the most powerful person. There was an inequality there."

March 1992 Playmate of the Month Tylyn John expanded on the thought: "You have a man that was living in a multi-million-dollar mansion, having million-dollar parties, but the girls that made him that success, we were disposable — that was how we felt."

Krabacher added that she, like so many others, knew Hefner had a habit of recording his sexual encounters. "It haunted me that he might have a video of me when he was on top of me," she said. "I pray that because I was unconscious he would not show it to anyone because it's illegal. My saving thought is that he had to have destroyed it because he's showing himself committing a crime."

Theodore and Garcia were intent on making sure that Krabacher's hope would become a reality. Years after their time at the Mansion — when they claim Hefner intentionally kept them apart to maintain his control — they teamed up with Masten, who had started the Iconic Women of Playboy Facebook group to connect Playboy alums. Together, the women developed a plan "to hold Hef accountable."

Secrets of Playboy
PJ Masten. A&E

They started a letter-writing campaign to raise awareness about Hefner's cache of blackmail-ready sex tapes. Once the story came to light, they were assured the tapes would be destroyed. (Lisa Loving Barrett, Hefner's executive assistant from 1977–89, confirmed she had reason to believe the tapes were put in a barrel and taken to sea.)

"Coming forward, I think, will be a cleansing for me," said Theodore. "It's very difficult to think of all my skeletons in everybody's living room right now. Nobody wants to reveal their secrets. But I want it to make a difference, it's gotta make a difference. I'm hurt. And I can't be alone in this pain. I know I'm not, there are too many of us. And I want to right some of it, I want it to go away, and eventually maybe it will if enough women tell me that it helped, maybe it'll go away."

She also said that, in retrospect, "We're just damn lucky we got out of there — as normal as we could be, because not one of us is normal."

In a statement released just before the docuseries' premiere, Playboy's current leadership wrote, "We trust and validate women and their stories, and we strongly support the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences."

The statement also noted, "Today's Playboy is not Hugh Hefner's Playboy."

Secrets of Playboy airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on A&E.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to

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