UPDATE: Eric England gave a very brief response, which we have added below.
This story discusses various forms of assault and, as such, readers should enter knowing that sensitive topics will be discussed.
In this time of #MeToo and #TimesUp, we are seeing more and more people come forward with stories of abuses they have suffered at the hands of people in power. From the women assaulted by Harvey Weinstein to Mariah Carey’s ex-security guard who accused her of sexual harassment to Timothy Heller’s accusations of rape at the hands of Melanie Martinez, people are coming forward with their stories of pain and hurt in the hopes of changing the status quo so that everyone can feel a little bit safer.
Today another story is added to this tragic list as actor Katie Stegeman has publicly accused director Eric England (Contracted, Josie, Madison County) of “…physically, emotionally, mentally, and sexually” abusing her over a three-year period.
Taking to Instagram, Stegeman wrote the following passionate, empathetic, and heartfelt message:
“[Pause. What a pleasure. Deep Breath.] For many years I have been keeping this man’s secret from going public. For many years I had to make sure I was safe and of sound mind coming forward. I wanted to come from a place of kindness and without fear. Well, today is the day. For three years, director Eric England abused me physically, emotionally, mentally, and sexually. The irony of this photo is not lost on me. I was thrown into tables, choked until I couldn’t breathe, threatened with scissors, knives, screwdrivers, and was denied the right to turn this man down for sex for fear of, as he called it “awakening the beast.” To say I am lucky to be alive is an understatement. Sitting and watching the trailer for his latest movie #Josie is all the reminder I need to come forward. Impressionable, young amazing women like [Sophie Turner] should not be working with someone like him, and if I remain quiet, the pattern will continue. Eric, I hope this forces you to bow out gracefully and get the help you need. I know your team is aware of your history as well as the LAPD. It’s time to go and give way to the creatives of this town, who also know how to treat people when no one is looking. I want you to know I forgive you and thank you for reminding me how strong I am. I also want the people who knew about Eric’s abuse and continued to work for him to know, that I forgive you too. But now you have a choice. From here on out I ask you to do the right thing…even though it’s impossible at times. I want to thank all the amazing people in my life, who stood by me no questions asked. Especially my amazing hero [Brett Pierce], who reminded me that great men still exist. I stayed quiet for the integrity of our movies, out of respect for your family, for fear of you running a smear campaign, for fear of you hurting me, for fear of you stopping my movie, for fear of you making sure no horror director would hire me, but I am no longer afraid. I will happily put my career aside, if it means saving someone’s life, because no one should ever have to go through what I endured. I hope you find your peace and come out of this a better man. Love and light.”
Josie refers to England’s latest film, which stars Sophie Turner and Dylan McDermott. The film follows the relationship between an older man and a high school girl who recently moves into the area. It was just released in limited theaters and on VOD.
Stegeman responded on her Instagram feed after receiving several comments of support, saying:
“I cannot thank you all enough for your support. Means we are getting to a better place of zero tolerance. Please do me a huge favor and still watch Josie. There are a lot of innocent people involved in this movie and residuals are how they pay their bills. All I ask is that moving forward, we do not create a platform to reward violence or manipulation. Let’s fill this void with greatness and do our damnedest to put excellence at the top…not just the loudest voice in the room. I am so so so lucky to be surrounded by people, who do what’s right…not what’s popular. I am beyond inspired by you all. There’s no need to bash Eric…no one person is all bad…it’s just simply his time to go. Keep sharing the message and the love!”
We at Dread Central take allegations like this very seriously; but for clarity’s sake, we must also make it clear that England has not been officially charged. I want to personally highlight the powerful and empathetic presentation of Stegeman’s accusation. As she herself claims, she wanted to come at this from “…a place of kindness and without fear.” I believe that she has done so and laud her for that. Should these allegations be confirmed, I want to send her my best wishes on her road to recovery and to let her know that she is not alone. Already there are many voices lending their support in this difficult time.
We have reached out to England for a comment, who simply replied, “I’ll be releasing a statement soon.“