Former makeup artist Kailey Kaminsky says she was coerced at the threat of her job to repeatedly perform oral sex on HGTV star Carter Oosterhouse.
Oosterhouse has admitted to having relations with Kaminsky, but has denied any coercion and maintains the relations were completely consensual.
In 2008, Kaminsky, then 34, worked as a makeup artist on Oosterhouse's show "Carter Can" when the alleged coercion took place. She says she performed oral sex on the star 10-15 times after he pressured her and then had a conversation with her that she interpreted as an implication that she would lose her job if she did not acquiesce.
"I was so worn down from his advances, so I did: that day, on that occasion. It was the first time. Then thereafter it was most every time we would shoot — 10 to 15 times he put me in this position," she told The Hollywood Reporter.
"[T]he persistent requests for oral sex began a year into her employment on the show when Oosterhouse, then 32 and a home improvement TV star after gaining fame on TLC's Trading Spaces, propositioned her while the pair were running errands in a truck during a location shoot in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan. She repeatedly rebuffed him on the trip, she says, and his advances were even more surprising because she identifies as a lesbian," says the report.
"He's like, 'You know what would be a good idea? If you went down on me,'" Kaminsky recalled. "I was shocked — it was so random. I said, in my sarcastic way, 'Well, that's not sexual harassment at all.' He said, 'I just think it would be fun.' I made it clear that I did not think it would be fun. Still, I thought he was just goofing around."
"He was determined to get a blow job," she added, saying he had "tunnel vision."
The requests for oral sex allegedly continued back in Los Angeles, says Kaminsky. In September 2008, Oosterhouse was allegedly "intimidating" her to perform such sexual favors. When they were driving to a project, "he pulled off the road and said, 'Do you enjoy your job?'" she recalled. "I said I did and in fact would like to work more, handling more of his personal appearances outside the show. He said, 'Well, I can help you with that. But you need to do something for me.'"
Kaminsky told The Hollywood Reporter she felt she had to "capitulate" or she'd lose her job. She said this happened a total of 10-15 times.
"It was eye contact; he would look at me and look down," said Kaminsky, describing what would happen before such alleged encounters.
She said she felt especially "degraded" because "when he would assault me, he insisted on finishing on my face — every time — knowing that I had to go back out and work. I asked him about that. He said, 'It's just what I wanted to do.'"
In a statement, Oosterhouse denied all the accusations of coercion and said it was Kaminsky who often initiated the sexual encounters.
"I had an intimate relationship with Kailey 9 years ago and it was 100% mutual and consensual. In no way did I ever feel, nor was it ever indicated to me, that Kailey was uncomfortable during our intimate relationship. I would have never done anything that I was not sure was mutually agreeable," he said.
"The reality is that I knew it was consensual because she initiated it the first time and many of the 15 or so times we had relations thereafter. We were together outside of work and I considered her a friend," the statement continued.
"I didn't have anything to do with her not being invited back to the show — that was a producer decision," he added.
The former makeup artist claims she was so distressed over the alleged situation that she developed a stomach ulcer and ultimately suffered from depression and PTSD.
"I developed this stomach ulcer, something I'd never had before, and was hospitalized for a week," said Kaminsky. "I kept beating myself up psychologically — that I was nothing but a prostitute. And the longer this went on, the less he would allow me to do my job. If I wanted to step in and touch up his hair and powder, he would push me away."
Kaminsky says she told two female producers on the show, but apparently relayed to them that the relations were consensual. "I was trying to find a narrative to make myself feel better. I told myself that this is giving me power. I definitely went out of my way to pretend it was something that I was participating in willfully. I was like, 'It's fine, whatever.' I was trying not to cry," she said, adding: "It was Stockholm Syndrome-y, justifying-what-you're-doing."
One of those female producers said she did not suspect any wrongdoing from Oosterhouse based on her conversations with Kaminsky. "It didn't raise any flags, so I don't think we suggested an intervention," she said. "It didn't seem like it was abusive."
Kaminsky claims Oosterhouse later apologized for his actions after she told him she felt forced to perform such sexual acts, but Oosterhouse denies this. "I did say I thought it was mutual — because it was," he recalled. "I didn't apologize because I never did anything wrong. That's the God's honest truth. I felt bad that she was, in that moment, not-super-positive."
Kaminsky said she felt it was important to come forward as part of the #MeToo campaign, although the stories have triggered PTSD for her. "I read these stories and there's PTSD: Why wasn't I strong enough to protect myself?" she said. "I'm not looking to be litigious or for money. ... I just want to set the record straight about what happened to me."
Here's Carter Oosterhouse's full statement via The Hollywood Reporter:
First off, let me say that I am very passionate about what is a happening right now with the #metoo movement, especially because I have so many strong woman in my life, like my wife, mother, sister and of course my little baby girl. We are in a time of change for society and I am behind it 100%.
I had an intimate relationship with Kailey 9 years ago and it was 100% mutual and consensual. In no way did I ever feel, nor was it ever indicated to me, that Kailey was uncomfortable during our intimate relationship. I would have never done anything that I was not sure was mutually agreeable.
The reality is that I knew it was consensual because she initiated it the first time and many of the 15 or so times we had relations thereafter. We were together outside of work and I considered her a friend.
I want to address a couple of the things she said. First, I didn't have anything to do with her not being invited back to the show — that was a producer decision.
And as for the fact that she identifies as a lesbian — I didn't know that — all I knew was that she was in a sexual relationship with another guy who worked on the show.
It's upsetting that she now feels this way, I only wish her the best and truly hope that she can move forward.