Twentieth Century Fox has cut a scene from upcoming thriller, "The Predator," after discovering that one of the director's friends was a convicted and registered sex offender.
What are the details?
Shane Black, the film's director, reportedly hired Steven Wilder Striegel even though he'd pleaded guilty in 2010 to an online relationship with a minor child under the age of 18.
Black admitted that he was aware of this conviction when he hired Striegel to appear in the film.
According to a report by the L.A. Times, Striegel said that the minor was one of his "distant relatives," with whom he grew close with through email. The report noted that the emails turned explicit at one point, and the online relationship eventually resulted in Striegel's 2009 arrest.
The arrest also alleged physical contact between Striegel and the minor, who was 14 years old at the time. Striegel has denied this, and said that there was no physical contact, though the report alleged that a March 2009 arrest warrant affidavit alleged that physical contact included “kissing, touching [the minor's] breast over her clothing, rubbing her legs, and stroking her neck” reportedly occurred on several occasions.
Striegel, who would have been around 39 years old during the time of the alleged relationship, served six months in prison in connection with the conviction.
What did the director say?
In a statement to the outlet, Black said, “I personally chose to help a friend. I can understand others might disapprove, as his conviction was on a sensitive charge and not to be taken lightly.”
Black added that he believes his friend was also “caught up in a bad situation versus something lecherous,” however.
In a statement to the L.A. Times, Striegel said, “The only thing I was ever charged with were words in an email.”
The report noted that Striegel was featured in a scene with actress Olivia Munn. His character was intended to hit on Munn's character, but when she later learned of his conviction, she requested that Twentieth Century Fox nix the scene from the production altogether.
On Thursday, Black issued an updated statement to Variety.
"Having read this morning’s news reports, it has sadly become clear to me that I was misled by a friend I really wanted to believe was telling me the truth when he described the circumstances of his conviction," Black said. "I believe strongly in giving people second chances – but sometimes you discover that chance is not as warranted as you may have hoped.
"After learning more about the affidavit, transcripts and additional details surrounding Steve Striegel’s sentence, I am deeply disappointed in myself," he added. "I apologize to all of those, past and present, I’ve let down by having Steve around them without giving them a voice in the decision."
What did the studio say?
A spokesperson for Twentieth Century Fox also issued a statement on the matter on Thursday.
“Our studio was not aware of Mr. Striegel’s background when he was hired,” the spokesperson said. “Several weeks ago, when the studio learned the details, his one scene in the film was removed within 24 hours. We were not aware of his background during the casting process due to legal limitations that impede studios from running background checks on actors.”
"The Predator" is set for release on Sept. 14.