A makeup artist on Carter Oosterhouse's HGTV show Carter Can is accusing the host of coercing her to perform oral sex after he threatened her employment.
Kailey Kaminsky told The Hollywood Reporter that she worked as Oosterhouse's makeup artist in 2008. Oosterhouse, who had found initial fame on TLC's Trading Spaces, began pestering Kaminsky for oral sex a year into her employment on Carter Can, she alleges.
"He's like, 'You know what would be a good idea? If you went down on me,'" she said. "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 ... It was as if he had tunnel vision. He was determined to get (oral sex)."
Kaminsky, who identifies as a lesbian, claimed that she repeatedly rebuffed Oosterhouse's advances until his requests became intimidating and he threatened her job.
"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.'"
According to Kaminsky, she eventually submitted to his requests between 10 and 15 times, She says she spoke to two female producers on Carter Can about Oosterhouse's behavior, but at the time, she was not ready to acknowledge the extent of the abuse.
"I was trying to find a narrative to make myself feel better," she explained. "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 ... It was Stockholm Syndrome-y, justifying-what-you're-doing."
Eventually, Kaminsky left Los Angeles and fell into a depression that necessitated in-patient treatment. "I was basically nonfunctioning, unable to hold a job," she told THR. "I had no self-esteem. I just spiraled further and further down."
In a statement to THR, Oosterhouse disputed the details of his "intimate relationship" with Kaminsky, claiming it was "100 percent mutual."
"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 oral sex thereafter."
USA TODAY has contacted representatives from HGTV for comment.
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