Actor James Van Der Beek reveals he faced sexual harassment by 'older, powerful men'

James Van Der Beek in What Would Diplo Do?-28072017-0002
James Van Der Beek writes and stars in Viceland’s new comedy “What Would Diplo Do?”

The actor James Van Der Beek revealed Wednesday that he, too, faced sexual harassment early in his career, in the wake of mounting allegations of serial sexual harassment and assault against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

In a series of tweets, the 40-year-old Dawson’s Creek star denounced Weinstein’s behavior as “criminal” and “unacceptable,”and said that as a young actor he “had [his] a– grabbed by older, powerful men.”

The actor later attempted to tamp down speculation on the identities the people he alleges had sexually harassed him.

Van Der Beek currently plays a superstar DJ on the series What Would Diplo Do?, which premiered in August.

Since allegations against Weinstein were first publicized in the New York Times last week, followed by a story in the New Yorker magazine and another Times article this week, many women in the film industry have come forward to condemn the disgraced Hollywood mogul and to share their personal experiences of sexual harassment. So far, 32 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault, according to a running list being kept by Vanity Fair. Among them are Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rose McGowan.

High-profile figures have also publicly denounced Weinstein in recent days, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Actor Ben Affleck similarly expressed his outrage at the allegations against Weinstein – only to come under scrutiny himself for having groped then Total Request Live host Hilarie Burton in the early 2000s. Affleck later apologized for his behavior.

Now, male actors have also come forward to accuse powerful industry men of sexually harassing them.

On Tuesday, actor Terry Crews shared his experience of being groped by a “high level Hollywood executive.”

Crews did not confront his assailant immediately, fearing that an escalation could turn violent and land him in jail, he said. Ultimately, the 49-year-old “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star decided not to pursue the incident because he worried about jeopardizing his career.

Both Crews and Van Der Beek zeroed in on the film industry’s power dynamics that often make it possible for sexual predators to commit assaults with impunity.

“Hopefully, me coming forward with my story will deter a predator and encourage someone who feels hopeless,” Crews wrote.

In the week since the allegations against Weinstein were first publicized, the 65-year-old Hollywood producer has been fired as co-chairman of the Weinstein Co., which he co-founded with his brother. On Tuesday, his wife of 10 years, Georgina Chapman, announced that she was leaving him. While Weinstein initially apologized for his behavior, he has also “unequivocally denied” any allegations of nonconsensual sex, spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister said in a statement to the Washington Post.