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Jeffrey Tambor's former assistant details accusations of sexual harassment

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Megan Murray
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Jeffrey Tambor’s former assistant, Van Barnes, has detailed her claims of sexual harassment against the actor in a television interview. 

An investigation into accusations of sexual harassment against Hollywood and TV actor, Jeffery Tambor, have led to his dismissal from the hit Amazon TV show, Transparent

According to Jezebel, a number of women have made complaints about the actor, who is famous for roles in shows such as Arrested Development and Hell Boy.

His former assistant, Van Barnes, has accused him of sexual misconduct and touching her inappropriately, claiming that he watched her sleep naked and asked her questions like “why haven’t we slept together yet”.

Barnes has now come forward to speak out about her experiences of working with the actor and comedian, over a two year period, and has asked why Amazon didn’t do more to support her.

Appearing on the American TV chat show, Megyn Kelly Today, Barnes explains that she felt pressured by Tambor’s lewd sexual references, which she feels increased around times of career negotiation.

She says she initially felt inspired to talk about his behaviour by the #MeToo movement and posted to her private Facebook account, explaining that she had her own story to tell. 

Speaking to Kelly about working on the set of Transparent, Barnes says: “Continually, I was always harassed.

“It ran the gamut of sexual harassment, physical harassment, and verbal abuse constantly. And this all really falls under the problem that Hollywood has right now of the abuse of power and misogyny with people who are in power.”

Jeffrey Tambor in the Amazon series, Transparent, in which he plays a transgender woman. 

Barnes reports that when preparing for a new project, before the continuation of her contract had been confirmed, Tambor would start making sexual comments and reference his desire to have sex with her. 

She continues: “During job negotiation times, while we were getting ready for the next project, he would start making comments about, ‘why haven’t we slept together?’

“And it wasn’t just a one-time joke. It would be three times a week and you would know we were going to take a break and come back in a month and that would be the time when negotiations would be completed.”

Barnes says she “deflected” these comments but felt scared for her career, because although she looks “white and blonde”, she would describe herself as a “minority” because she’s transgender. 

Barnes recalls how deflecting the continuous “sexual statements and requests” began to wear her down, and eventually instead of reminding Tambor that she was married, she told him, “I’m not comfortable with my body”.  It was then that Tambor revealed he had already seen her body, after having spied on her while she slept naked. 

“He said, ‘I’m comfortable with your body’. I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘Well, I’ve seen you naked.’

“When we first first started working together we lived together for two weeks…and he said that in the middle of the night, he said that he watched me sleep.”

Barnes continues to explain that he told her she had been sleeping naked and that she suspected him of “joshing” her, until he revealed an eerily, specific detail in that she sleeps with one arm over her head. 

Upon being asked if she feels Amazon did everything they could to support herself and the other women that have accused Tambor, Barnes says: “Him being fired is just, in a male-driven Hollywood. And he brought this on himself. but they haven’t completed the whole process of helping me back up on my feet.”

Transparent castmember, Trace Lysette, also previously reported to The Hollywood Reporter that Tambor sexually harassed her.

Tambor has denied these claims in a statement that was shared with the chat show, reading: “Jeffrey Tambor 100% denies these claims. I am aware that a former disgruntled assistant of mine has made a private post implying that I had acted in an improper manner to her.

“I adamantly and vehemently reject and deny any and all implication and allegation that I have ever engaged in any improper behaviour towards this person or any other person I have ever worked with.”

Images: Rex Features

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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