Dustin Hoffman faced ruthless grilling from John Oliver during a public Q&A regarding sexual allegations made against the actor.

The New York event was held by Tribeca Institute for the 20th anniversary screening of the political satire Wag the Dog. Oliver was moderating the Q&A, which also had Hoffman's co-star in the film, Robert De Niro, director Barry Levinson and producer Jane Rosenthal in the panel. As the two engaged in a fiery confrontation, the rest of the group were stunned into an awkward silence.

The clash started when Oliver brought up the current sexual scandals in Hollywood. This led the conversation to sexual misconduct charges made against Hoffman by actor Anna Graham Hunter, 49.

Hunter came forward last month to accuse the actor of groping her and making inappropriate comments while she worked as a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie adaptation of Death of a Salesman.

Hoffman responded with a public apology saying: "I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation.

"I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am."

But Oliver wanted to continue with the subject. "This is something we're going to have to talk about because ... it's hanging in the air," he was quoted as saying in the Washington Post.

Hoffman replied: "It's hanging in the air? From a few things you've read, you've made an incredible assumption about me. You've made the case better than anyone else can. I'm guilty."

'I don't know who the woman is'

The Last Week Tonight presenter asked: "You've made one statement in print. Does that feel like enough to you?"

"First of all, it didn't happen, the way she reported. I still don't know who this woman is," Hoffman replied. "I never met her. If I met her, it was in concert with other people."

"It's 'not reflective of who I am' — it's that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off," Oliver said. "It is reflective of who you were. If you've given no evidence to show it didn't [happen] then there was a period of time for a while when you were a creeper around women. It feels like a cop-out to say 'It wasn't me.' Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?"

Hoffman accused his host of "putting me on display" and asked him to keep an open mind.

"Do you believe this stuff you read?" Hoffman asked Oliver replied: "Yes. Because there's no point in [an accuser] lying."

"Well, there's a point in her not bringing it up for 40 years," Hoffman said.

"I can't leave certain things unaddressed," Oliver explained towards the end of the discussion. "The easy way is not to bring anything up. Unfortunately, that leaves me at home later at night hating myself, [asking,] 'Why the f*** didn't I say something?' No one stands up to powerful men."

People were all praise for Oliver's action and had this to say on Twitter: