Three separate reports of child sexual abuse in the entertainment industry brought in just the past few weeks indicates that Hollywood may have a serious epidemic on its hands.
Fox News is reporting that Martin Weiss, a 47 year-old Hollywood manager, was charged in Los Angeles last week with sexually abusing a former client who was under the age of 12 years at the time of the alleged abuse. His accuser claims Weiss told him “what they were doing was common practice in the entertainment industry.” Weiss pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Only a few weeks earlier, Fernando Rivas, 59, the award-winning composer for Sesame Street, was arraigned on charges of coercing a child “to engage in sexually explicit conduct” in South Carolina. He was also charged with production and distribution of child pornography.
Also within the past month, registered sex offender Jason James Murphy, 35, worked as a casting agent in Hollywood for years before his past record of kidnapping and sexual abuse of a boy was revealed by the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 17. Murphy placed young actors in shows such as Bad News Bears, The School of Rock, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and the forthcoming Three Stooges.
According to former child star, Corey Feldman, himself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, he bravely went on the record last August to warn the public that the entertainment industry is a magnet for pedophiles.
“I can tell you that the No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia,” Feldman told ABC’s Nightline. “That’s the biggest problem for children in this industry… It’s the big secret.”
This was confirmed by another child star, Paul Peterson, now 66, and the star of the popular 1950’s sitcom, The Donna Reed Show. “When I watched that interview, a whole series of names and faces from my history went zooming through my head,” Peterson said about the Feldman interview. “Some of these people, who I know very well, are still in the game.”
Alison Arngrim, 49, who starred in Little House on the Prairie, told Fox child sexual abuse “was the gossip back in the 80’s. People said ‘Oh yeah, the Coreys, everyone’s had them.’ People talked about it like it was not a big deal.”
Arngrim was referring to both Feldman and his co-star in “The Lost Boys,” Corey Haim, 38, who died in March 2010 after years of drug abuse. Feldman claims the sexual abuse of Haim by an unnamed “Hollywood mogul” led to his death. “That person needs to be exposed, but, unfortunately, I can’t be the one to do it,” he told Nightline.
Arngrim says she heard the two were “passed around” and were given drugs and being used for sex. “It was awful – these were kids, they weren’t 18 yet. There were all sorts of stories about everyone from their, quote, ‘set guardians’ on down that these two had been sexually abused and were totally being corrupted in every possible way.”
Arngrim, who is a board member and the national spokeswoman for protect.org, an organization that works to protect children from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, says many people knew about the Feldman and Haim abuse but Hollywood greed prevented any of them from speaking up.
“Nobody wants to stop the gravy train,” she said. “If a child actor is being sexually abused by someone on the show, is the family, agents or managers – the people who are getting money out of this – going to say, ‘OK, let’s press charges’? No, because it’s going to bring the whole show to a grinding halt, and stop all the checks. So, the pressure is there is not to say anything.”
Feldman has yet to name the perpetrator, but many, like Peterson, wish he would.
“People don’t want to talk about this because they’re afraid for their careers,” Peterson said. “From my perspective, what Corey did was pretty brave. It would be really wonderful if his allegations reached through all of the protective layers and identified the real people who are a part of a worldwide child pornography ring, because it’s huge and it respects no borders, just as it does not respect the age of the children involved.”
What is it about Hollywood that attracts pedophiles?
“A set in Hollywood with children can become a place that attracts pedophiles because the children there may be vulnerable and less tended to,” Beverly Hills-based psychotherapist Dr. Jenn Berman told Fox. “One thing we know about actors, psychologically speaking, is that they’re people who like a lot of attention. Kids naturally like a lot of attention, and when you put a kid on a set who is unsupervised and getting attention from someone who is powerful, it creates a vulnerability for a very dangerous situation.”
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