Fred Savage Denies Physical Assault Claim by The Grinder Costume Designer
Fred Savage has been accused of hitting a female crew member on the set of The Grinder in 2015
Fred Savage is denying the physical assault claims that have been brought against him by a former female TV crew member.
Savage, 41, has been accused of attacking and harassing a woman who worked in the wardrobe department of the Fox series The Grinder in 2015, TMZ reports. While on set, Savage, who starred as Stewart Sanderson on the show, allegedly “violently struck” Youngjoo Hwang three times on the arm while she was brushing dandruff off of his clothing.
“Mr Savage was aggressive towards me. He would routinely curse at me, yell at me, demean me when all I was trying to do my job. It became more and more stressful for me to go to work because I was scared of the abuse and what I would have to encounter on any given day. I’m not the only women on set that Mr. Savage target. There were others and this was well known on set,” Hwang said during a press conference Wednesday.
Recounting one incident in particular, she alleged, “I was attempting to brush off dandruff off of Mr. Savage’s jacket. Mr. Savage snapped. He yelled at me, told me not to touch him and he hit my arm violently three times. I could not stop crying, I was in pain I was humiliated and I was scared. This was the last straw for me because now me physical safety was at risk.”
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Wednesday, Savage denied the accusations. “I have witnessed tremendous courage over these past few months, watching brave women who have come forward publicly fighting through the shame and stigma of harassment. I’ve seen first-hand the growing support in this movement that has always felt so lacking. As someone who has always tried to live honorably and with integrity, it never dawned on me that my name could be on the other side,” his statement begins.
“I was made aware that a woman working in the costume department of a show I was on almost three years ago has claimed that I treated her harshly on set simply because she was a woman. These accusations are completely without merit and absolutely untrue. Fox conducted an extensive internal investigation into her claims, a process in which I fully participated. After concluding a thorough investigation, Fox determined that there was absolutely no evidence to support these accusations. None of her claims could be substantiated because they did not happen,” the statement continues.
“I have been working in the entertainment industry my whole life and have always endeavored to treat everyone on any set I work on respectfully and professionally. While none of the accusations being leveled at me are true, I wholeheartedly support all people who feel they are being mistreated come forward and speak to human resources and those in charge,” Savage says. “We have witnessed so much bravery from those speaking out recently, but I will just as boldly protect myself and my family from those seeking to tarnish my good name. I cannot let these people in particular denigrate me while harming the message of thousands of women and others who have suffered and continue to suffer.”
Fox is also standing behind the actor; they confirmed in a statement that an investigation was conducted and Savage was cleared.
“Fox takes all allegations of improper conduct very seriously. We conducted a thorough investigation into these allegations and found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Savage,” the network says in the statement to PEOPLE. “We will vigorously defend against these unfounded claims.”
According to TMZ, the woman is suing the actor and Twentieth Century Fox for the following: harassment, assault, battery and discrimination.
This isn’t the first time accusations have been made against Savage. In March of 1993, a 32-year-old costume designer filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court that alleged Savage, then 16, and his The Wonder Years costar Jason Hervey, then 20, verbally and physically harassed her, as reported by PEOPLE at the time. Per the same report, the costume designer had been fired by the show the previous October, and Savage’s lawyer denied the claims, calling her a “disgruntled employee.”
Hervey’s lawyer had also denied the claims at the time, saying, per PEOPLE, that the actor was “angry” over the suit.
Savage spoke about the suit a few years later in 1996. He told SF Gate, which reported the suit was later dropped, “I really don’t want to talk about it. It was a terrible experience.”