Timothy Hutton is vigorously denying claims that he raped a teenager in 1983, saying he may file a defamation lawsuit soon against his accuser and the publication that detailed her allegations.
“For the past two-and-a-half years, I have been the target of multiple extortion attempts by a woman named Sera Dale Johnston to extract millions of dollars from me,” the star of Fox’s Almost Family told Deadline on Monday after reports of the decades-old claims were published. “She threatened that if I did not meet her demands, she would go to the press with a false allegation that I sexually assaulted her 37 years ago in Canada,” Hutton added.
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“I never assaulted Ms. Johnston,” the actor said.
“Today, BuzzFeed chose to publish Ms. Johnston’s false story,” the Oscar-winning Ordinary People actor went on to say about the claim of him sexually assaulting the then 14-year-old in a Vancouver hotel room while another man looked on and participated. “BuzzFeed knew the truth because they were provided with documented evidence,” Hutton says of the report by the online publication’s former reporters Kate Aurthur and Adam B. Vary, who now write for Variety.
“What’s really going on here is that Ms. Johnston’s extortion attempts failed,” Hutton adds. “She then decided to follow through on her threat to go to the press with her false story. When I became aware of this, I went to the FBI, signed a sworn statement, and filed a criminal complaint against Ms. Johnston for extortion.”
“I will not stop fighting to expose this story for what it is – a failed extortion attempt based on something that never happened,” concluded Hutton.
The BuzzFeed story claims that Hutton and Johnson came to a $135,000 settlement, but that the latter declined the agreement because it included a denial by the former that the incident ever occurred.
Now, in language we’ve heard before in the #MeToo era, Hutton’s lawyers want the article retracted or they say court proceedings will be initiated.
“We will be sending BuzzFeed a legal retraction demand,” attorney Tom Clare said Monday of the extensive piece, which recounted Johnston’s recollection of the incident at a Vancouver hotel. “If BuzzFeed wrongfully refuses to retract the article, Tim is prepared to take any and all necessary steps, including the filing of a defamation lawsuit, to clear his name and to hold BuzzFeed and Ms. Johnston accountable for their reckless and self-serving efforts to destroy Tim’s reputation and career,” the Alexandria, VA-based Clare Locke LLP partner stated of someone Hutton says he never even met. (See Clare’s full statement below.)
As is typical of the bureau, the FBI would neither confirm or deny Hutton came to them about the matter. It should be noted that the Vancouver Police did not confirm to Deadline that the allegations were presented to them in late 2019, or whether there was an investigation underway.
More definitively, neither Almost Family broadcaster Fox nor producers Universal TV had a comment on the matter today. The drama about a fertility doctor, played by Hutton, who used his sperm to conceive more than 100 children over his career just had its Season 1 finale February 22. With the low-rated Almost Family not returning for another season, the WME-repped Hutton is next set to play the President of the United States in FX’s upcoming Y: The Last Man drama series about the last man on Earth.
Here’s Clare’s full statement:
There was no encounter of any kind here, and certainly no sexual assault. The woman featured in the BuzzFeed article, Sera Dale Johnston, has tried to extort millions of dollars from Tim over the last two years. The article was published only after those extortion attempts failed. BuzzFeed, facing serious financial struggles and pressure to attract readers, has shamefully disregarded the facts and allowed itself to be used by Ms. Johnston.
Buzzfeed knew the truth before publication. For example, BuzzFeed knew that, in July 2019, Tim filed a criminal complaint with the FBI — long before Ms. Johnston made her own report to the police. Further, BuzzFeed recklessly disregarded multiple sworn declarations from neutral third parties that absolutely show Ms. Johnston’s allegations to be false. In addition, BuzzFeed ignored hard evidence that Ms. Johnston lied about participating in extortion attempts and turned a blind eye to critical inconsistencies in Ms. Johnston’s story.
We will be sending BuzzFeed a legal retraction demand. If BuzzFeed wrongfully refuses to retract the article, Tim is prepared to take any and all necessary steps, including the filing of a defamation lawsuit, to clear his name and to hold BuzzFeed and Ms. Johnston accountable for their reckless and self-serving efforts to destroy Tim’s reputation and career.
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