A bitter court battle is brewing over Timothy Hutton’s dismissal from the reboot for Leverage after he was accused of raping a teenager in 1983.
Responding to a lawsuit filed by the actor claiming his deal was breached, series producer Electric Entertainment alleges Hutton “intentionally withheld and concealed” attempting to pay off the victim in a settlement and kill a story exposing the accusations during contract negotiations despite knowing that “the scandal would have prevented him from being offered the role.”
Hutton, who was dropped from Leverage: Redemption after the claims surfaced, has denied the allegations. He hasn’t been charged with any crime stemming from the incident.
The actor argued in a lawsuit that his agreement to star and executive produce the show included a “pay-or-play” provision that guaranteed him at least $3 million “regardless of whether Electric actually utilized his services in the production of the series.” He says the deal closed in February 2020 — before BuzzFeed reported that a woman had filed a complaint to Canadian law enforcement alleging Hutton raped her when he was in Vancouver shooting Iceman.
But in a countersuit filed on Monday, Electric Entertainment argues Hutton had a legal duty to disclose the accusations against him but chose not to because he knew that he would then be in violation of the moral clause in his contract.
According to the complaint, the rape allegations surfaced two weeks after Hutton successfully negotiated the principal terms for him to appear in Leverage: Redemption.
“The fact that CROSS-DEFENDANT HUTTON was accused of rape of a minor, the fact that he attempted to buy her off, the fact that since he was unable to buy her off and BuzzFeed was going to expose the accuser’s story were all material to the negotiation CROSSDEFENDANT was engaged in with Cross-Complainant to appear in Leverage 2.0,” reads the complaint.
Hutton has maintained that his deal didn’t include a “moral clause,” which allows for termination of a contract if a party engages in any conduct that could reflect badly upon the other party. Electric Entertainment counters in its complaint that it’s “undisputed” that industry-accepted provisions identifying instances in which a producer can opt out of deal “would become part of the agreement for Leverage 2.0” since the two sides relied on Hutton’s 2007 contract to appear in the original series when negotiating the contract for the reboot.
Electric Entertainment also claims that Hutton’s failure to disclose the allegations against him endangered the series.
“At the time the parties were negotiating for Leverage 2.0, the entertainment industry, was reeling from constant news of alleged serial sexual harassers, sexual batterers and alleged rapists,” reads the complaint. “The rape allegations concerning a 14-year old were so serious in light of the #MeToo movement that it would have been impossible for Cross-Complainant to produce a series with CROSS-DEFENDANT HUTTON attached as an actor.”
In a March 2020 BuzzFeed story, Sera Johnston Hutton alleged Hutton raped her in 1983. One of her friends, who was also invited to the hotel room where Johnston was allegedly assaulted, signed an affidavit backing up her account. Hutton claims Johnston fabricated the accusations to extort him.
A tentative settlement, which would’ve paid Johnston $135,000, fell apart when Hutton continued to deny that the assault occurred.
Noah Wyle replaced Hutton in Leverage: Redemption. It was renewed in December for a second season.
Representatives for Hutton didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.