LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A jury has awarded a woman $2.5 million in punitive damages as well as $822,000 in other damages and back pay in a sexual harassment suit against her former boss, movie producer Jon Peters.
The jury found that Peters, 66, harassed Shelly Morita, a personal assistant to many stars, and that he created a hostile work environment. (Morita had previously assisted Jennifer Aniston, Pamela Anderson, Marisa Tomei and Justine Bateman, among others.)
During the trial, the now-44-year-old Morita testified that on one business trip he jumped into bed with her, that he abused drugs, often made suggestive comments and often tried to rub her thigh as she was making business calls. On another occasion she says he exposed himself to her and on another that while naked tried to put her in a bear hug.
Peters, a former hairdresser and Barbra Streisand boyfriend whose life reportedly inspired the movie “Shampoo,” produced a slew of Hollywood movies including “A Star is Born,” “Caddyshack,” “Rain Man,” “Bonfire of the Vanities” and “Batman.”
Morita worked for Peters from February 2005 for about a year. She filed her suit in 2006.
Despite what she called a stellar work record, Morita said after filing suit she found it hard to find work as a Hollywood assistant because of Peters’ pull in Hollywood.
In 2008, Peters was also sued for sexual harassment by a male co-worker who said Peters would try to wrestle him in a sexual manner, touch his legs or buttocks and often fondle himself in front of employees.
Peters was also sued in 2007 by a live-in maid who claimed he tried to touch her breasts and that he pushed her onto his bed when naked. A year prior, a husband-and-wife who worked as servants at Peters Malibu beach house claimed they were fired when the wife became pregnant and refused to get an abortion.
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