The actor "completely and unequivocally denies" the claim, saying the accuser has tried to extort him.
Timothy Hutton
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Timothy Hutton attends the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
| Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

A former model and child actress has accused actor Timothy Hutton of raping her in the 1980s, when she was 14 and Hutton was in his early 20s. Hutton has emphatically denied the allegations, claiming the accuser, Sera Johnston, is attempting to extort him.

As reported by BuzzFeed News, Johnston claims that Hutton and one of his friends assaulted her in a Vancouver hotel room in 1983. She describes meeting the Oscar-winning actor, who was in town shooting the 1984 film Iceman, and says he invited Johnston and two of her friends to a party at his hotel. Once there, Johnston says, Hutton took her to his bedroom and raped her while one of his friends watched, before the friend assaulted her as well.

The alleged assault "has colored every area of my life," Johnston told BuzzFeed.

Hutton's lawyer told BuzzFeed that Johnston's story is "fabricated" and contains "patently false, scurrilous, and defamatory statements." In a statement released after the story's publication, Hutton claims that Johnston has subjected him to "multiple extortion attempts." His full statement reads:

"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. 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. I never assaulted Ms. Johnston.

"Today, BuzzFeed chose to publish Ms. Johnston's false story. BuzzFeed knew the truth because they were provided with documented evidence. What's really going on here is that Ms. Johnston's extortion attempts failed. 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."

Johnston's current lawyer did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.

BuzzFeed reported that it spoke to one of Johnston's friends, identified only as C.B., who was with her the night she says the incident took place, as well as five other people who say Johnston told them about the alleged assault over the following years (including Johnston's mother). C.B. reportedly corroborates Johnston's account of the events leading up to the alleged assault, and signed an affidavit, in the media outlet's words, "attesting to her recollections under penalty of perjury."

Johnston and her mother told Buzzfeed they decided not to go to the police at the time; Johnston said she blamed herself for the incident and was worried about repercussions for herself and her mother, who also worked in the entertainment industry. But in 2017, Johnston hired a lawyer to seek a financial settlement from Hutton, who she said agreed to pay her $135,000 (which his representatives characterized to BuzzFeed as "a nuisance settlement"). Johnston later rejected the deal, filing a criminal complaint against Hutton to the Vancouver Police Department in November 2019.

Hutton, meanwhile, filed a criminal complaint against Johnston with the FBI in July 2019, according to his defamation counsel Tom Clare. BuzzFeed's report says Hutton did this after being informed the outlet was working on the story.

"BuzzFeed, facing serious financial struggles and pressure to attract readers, has shamefully disregarded the facts and allowed itself to be used by Ms. Johnston," Clare said in a statement. "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."

In response to the lawyer's allegations, Matt Mittenthal, spokesperson for BuzzFeed News, told EW, "BuzzFeed News' reporting on the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by Timothy Hutton is based on interviews with the alleged victim, the account of a woman who was with her that evening, and five separate people who were told of the assault at the time. BuzzFeed News stands unequivocally by our reporting."

He added, "BuzzFeed has the highest traffic in its entire existence and is expecting to be profitable for all of 2020. The suggestion that there is any ulterior motive for rigorous journalism is nonsense."

Hutton, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar at age 20 for 1980's Ordinary People, most recently appeared on the Fox series Almost Family, playing a fertility doctor who used his own sperm to inseminate patients. Sources confirmed to EW Monday that Fox has canceled the series after a single season, apparently due to low ratings.

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