The previously unnamed victim at the center of the casting controversy surrounding The Predator came forward on Thursday and thanked Olivia Munn for her support
The previously unnamed victim at the center of the casting controversy surrounding The Predator came forward on Thursday and thanked Olivia Munn for her support.
Paige Carnes, who is now 24, released a statement to the Los Angeles Times revealing her identity and speaking out for the first time about the headline-making casting. The issue came to light after Munn found out that director Shane Black cast his friend Steven Wilder Striegel in the movie, despite the fact that the actor is a registered sex offender. (The scene in which the actor appeared has since been deleted from the film.)
In 2010, the actor, now 47, pled guilty to attempting “to lure a 14-year-old female into a sexual relationship via the internet,” the Los Angeles Times reported. Though the victim remained unnamed since she was underage at the time of the incident, Carnes has since decided to come out publicly.
“My purpose in making this statement is to reclaim my identity,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “I was not able to speak for myself when I was 14. The consequences of this abuse are profound and permanent for some…Your abuse does not define you. With support from others and strength from within, you can overcome the label of victim and reclaim your identity.”
She continued, “Support can come in many forms. Sometimes all it takes is one person speaking up for you, acknowledging your worth as a human being. I am extremely fortunate to have a Father and Mother that love me unconditionally. My Father has supported me in my healing and growth in ways I cannot thank him enough for.”
Carnes also thanked Munn, who has repeatedly criticized Black for his decision and was the first to bring the issue to the studio before demanding that the scene be deleted if she was to keep promoting the movie.
“I am also eternally grateful for Olivia Munn’s action,” Carnes said. “She spoke up for me. She took a stance for me. In turn she stood for all who have suffered like I have. To be acknowledged by a stranger, on a public platform about this issue is incredibly empowering. The positive feedback from social media towards Olivia Munn is uplifting and feels incredibly supportive for me personally.”
Munn quickly replied to Carnes in a statement posted on her Twitter where she also praised her for choosing to speak out.
“Dear Paige, your bravery and strength by stepping out from behind the Jane Doe title and ‘reclaiming your identity’ is incredibly awe-inspiring,” Munn wrote. “Without a doubt, by stepping forward today with such eloquence, you have inspired so many other survivors. THANK YOU for your courage and fearlessness.”
Munn was previously one of several women to accuse Hollywood director Brett Ratner of sexual misconduct or harassment, claiming that he masturbated in front of her. Ratner’s attorney Martin Singer previously told the L.A. Times that his client disputed her claims.
WATCH: Olivia Munn and Multiple Women Accuse Film Producer Brett Ratner of Sexual Misconduct
Striegel served six months in jail after pleading guilty to risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer, according to the L.A. Times. After he was released, Black — his friend of over five years — was the first director to give the actor a role, offering him a part in Iron Man 3.
Striegel went on to allege that the 14-year-old girl was one of his “distant relatives” and that although he told her via email that “she was attractive and sexy,” their relationship never became physical.
However, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the outlet, it was alleged that the pair engaged in physical contact on multiple occasions.
Black has since apologized twice since the controversy came to light, including an emotional apology at the film’s premiere in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
“I made an error in judgement that is irresponsible — I’m not just a kid,” he told the Associated Press on the red carpet. “This is an adult decision with real responsibilities, and I didn’t vet somebody…I was the captain of that ship. It’s my job to make sure that those things don’t happen. And I failed, and I did cause pain to the people in the cast. That’s unacceptable. I take full responsibility. I’m very deeply sorry.”
He grew emotional as he continued, “I think about this a lot — I hope I learn from this. Because it really bothers me that this movie, which could’ve been beautiful people and a beautiful night…has been overshadowed in some ways by a stupid decision that I made. I’m very sorry to anybody.”
The Predator will be released nationwide on Sept. 14.