Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hollywood and Sexual Abuse of Teenagers

This is an article that first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.

It is regarding sexual abuse victims, as teens, in Hollywood.  There are linguistic indicators that we can follow in listening to what victims have to say as they struggle to remember.  I am currently working on something on "I don't remember" (in an open statement) by sex abuse victims.  I hope to publish the findings soon...Sexual Abuse victims, due to PTSD or PTSD-like symptoms will struggle with language.  If the victim was sexually molested pre-speech, there is even more complications found within the struggle to articulate.  


The spotlight again will be trained on the alleged sexual abuse of minors by powerful Hollywood players when Amy Berg's disturbing new documentary, An Open Secret, debuts at the DOC NYC film festival in New York on Nov. 14.
The subject was forced out of the shadows earlier this year when Michael Egan III filed lawsuits against X-Men director Bryan Singer, veteran TV executive Garth Ancier, former Disney exec David Neuman and producer Gary Goddard; all four denied the allegations, and by August, Egan had dropped the suits after prior inconsistent statements emerged (he also was scolded by a judge for lying in court). But now Egan is reemerging in a prominent role in Berg's film, which focuses in part on the late 1990s Internet company Digital Entertainment Network headed by Marc Collins-Rector and Chad Shackley, who held alcohol- and drug-fueled parties attended by teen boys. "They would pull away the better-looking younger kids and keep them for their own afterparty," where skinny-dipping was mandatory, says Egan in the film, alleging that Singer was in attendance.
The documentary, which paints a broad picture of sexual exploitation in the entertainment industry, does not revisit the specific allegations in Egan's lawsuits, nor does it characterize the men Egan sued as predators. But in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Berg defends her choice to include them, saying, "The question is, if you are an adult at one of these parties where so much is going on out in the open, what is your responsibility?" She admits, "I don't know the ins and outs of the various suits," but she is convinced of Egan's general credibility.
"He's a straight man in his 30s," she continues. "For him to say he was sexually abused by men as a young teen all the way up to his late teens, that's kind of an unlikely thing to lie about. He was at those parties. His story was not unique. So many other kids had the exact same stories with the same details." Plus, she adds, Egan's account is "only one aspect of the story. It's a much greater issue. When you meet the victims and see how prevalent this problem is, it's difficult to ignore."
Singer's attorney Marty Singer (no relation) has not seen the film yet, but he questions why Egan's allegations were included. "It's disappointing and pathetic that Amy Berg would rely on the word of Michael Egan, a proven liar, who recently was admonished by a federal judge for lying in court," Singer tells THR. "Egan has no credibility at all and can hardly be considered a reliable source for her so-called documentary."

An Open Secret also examines several other cases: Talent manager Marty Weiss — who pleaded no contest in 2012 to two counts of committing lewd acts on a child after he was charged with eight felony counts of molesting a young performer he represented — is seen in the film attending family gatherings with one of his victims, then is heard, on tape, admitting to the molestation. Bob Villard, a talent manager who at one time represented a young Leonardo DiCaprio and who pleaded no contest to a similar felony charge in 2005, is alleged to have sold pictures of boys (often pictured shirtless, in subservient poses) on eBay.
The film also claims that Michael Harrah, a talent manager who sat on SAG-AFTRA's Young Performers Committee, had young boys stay with him in his home and tried to take at least one of them to bed. "[Berg] quoted someone she had apparently talked to, and that information didn't seem to be correct," Harrah tells THR. "It's hard to respond to anything that is so nebulous." Adds a SAG-AFTRA rep, "We have not received complaints nor suggestions of any wrongdoing regarding the former committee member who resigned earlier this year."
An Open Secret originated in 2011, when Berg, 44, who received an Oscar nomination for her 2006 documentary Deliver Us From Evil, which explored sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, was approached by Matthew Valentinas, a Boston entertainment attorney. He and hedge fund manager Alan Hoffman were looking to do something about victims of sexual exploitation, and, after listening to interviews in which actor Corey Feldman talked of encountering abuse, they decided to produce a documentary. "We chose Amy because we didn't want it to be exploitative or tabloid," says Valentinas. "We wanted it to be empowering for the victims."
At first, Berg says, she had no interest in re-entering the dark world of abuse that she had visited in her earlier film. "It's definitely not something I wanted to go back into," she says. "But even many years after the DEN story, what I found really disturbing was the number of convicted pedophiles who are still being hired on set, on kids' shows. These are people who technically should be nowhere near children. That was really upsetting."

As she approached the filmmaking challenges involved, Berg discovered a wealth of visual material — 26 boxes worth — belonging to a collector on the East Coast who had bought up all of DEN's video archives. More importantly, she found victims of abuse, now young men, who were willing to go on camera and relate their experiences — and, in some cases, their parents also agreed to take part. The young men described the process of "grooming," by which the predators insinuated themselves into their lives, and they told of the often-difficult aftermath in which a number of them confronted depression, drugs and alcohol.
"They were all struggling with the same thing: trying to move on 10 years after the fact. I think this was healing for many of them," Berg says. "They also felt that there was a threat to other children, and that was another reason they wanted to speak." Valentinas adds, "The narrative really comes from the voices of the victims. The film relies on the courage of the victims coming forward. And for every person who did talk in the film, we talked to two or three who wanted to but couldn't make that jump yet."
Valentinas and Berg insist they didn't hit roadblocks from attorneys representing men named in the film. But when the DOC NYC festival canceled a critics' screening set for Nov. 4 at the producers' request, it raised the question of whether the filmmakers were at odds over the final cut. "There was no disagreement," says Valentinas. "There were a lot of legal complexities involved. We had to be sure we had all the documentation signed. That's what we did, and we're happy it's going to be screening."

While he had his fingers crossed, Thom Powers, artistic director of DOC NYC, says, "Certainly some moments were dicey, but I always believed in my heart that it was going to screen, because the whole film team was doing everything they could to make it happen." He adds, "I think it's an important film about an important topic, a topic that has, of course, been in the news this past year. But as many news reports as I've read about this story, the film gave me something that I hadn't had before, which is a depth of emotional understanding of what people involved in this have gone through. Anyone who has seen Amy's film Deliver Us From Evil understands the sensitivity she has around this subject and the depth of commitment she brings to it."
Will a distributor now step forward, or will the film, which cost about $1 million to make, prove too hot for Hollywood, forcing the filmmakers to take the self-distribution route? Several distributors have looked at it, and Valentinas says there is one, which he would not name, that has expressed definite interest. Says another distributor who passed, explaining there wasn't room for it on his release slate: "It's extremely compelling. How explosive it is remains to be seen. But I would not have any issue working on this film and think it would be a very interesting release." Valentinas adds, "I think it's going to come down to how courageous the executives are who look at this film. I think Hollywood is obviously nervous about the film, but I think once it is out there and everyone sees it, I'm sure we'll have a lot of suitors for the film. I'm glad it's premiering in New York, and I'm grateful for Thom Powers for giving us this venue to get the film out there."
In conjunction with the film, Valentinas is in the process of setting up The Courage to Act Foundation. "The profits from the film are going to the foundation," he says. "We are really hoping that more victims will feel they will have a place where they can come out and share their experience. It will also be a way for people to be more educated about how these pedophiles operate in Hollywood, because it's very specific. The people who are going to Hollywood every year to get into films might be a little more susceptible, and the people who are preying on them have more influence and more power to dangle over them. I hope this film will help the industry to police itself better."
Berg has already plunged into a number of new projects. Her first narrative film, Every Secret Thing, a drama about two young women, played by Dakota Fanning and Danielle Macdonald, convicted of killing a baby, debuted at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. and she is completing a documentary about Janis Joplin. But she's looking for more than just applause when An Open Secret finally screens. Say the director, "The goal is having public exposure that helps clean up the industry."


john said...

OT Update

Kyle Seitz Charged In Hot Car Death Of 15-Month-Old Son

tania cadogan said...

off topic

CONCORD, N.H. – Prosecutors say a New Hampshire teen who was kidnapped in October 2013 waited until a week after she was home to reveal her alleged captor's identity.

Documents released Wednesday also say Abigail Hernandez told investigators she learned her captor's name from a cookbook he had handed her captivity.

The information was released by a judge Wednesday in response to a motion filed by The Associated Press to unseal the arrest warrant affidavit against Nathaniel Kibby.

Kibby was charged in July with kidnapping the then-14-year-old on Oct. 9, 2013, as she walked home from her high school in Conway. She returned home the night of July 20, but investigators have not revealed the details of her kidnapping and return.

Kibby's lawyer declined to comment Wednesday on the newly-released information.

tania cadogan said...

off topic

VICTORVILLE, Calif. – A Southern California man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he beat to death a family of four, then buried the bodies in the desert.

Charles Merritt was ordered held without bail Wednesday after a brief arraignment on murder charges in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

Prosecutors believe Merritt killed his business associate, Joseph McStay, and McStay's family in February 2010 at their home in the San Diego County community of Fallbrook.

The family's disappearance remained a mystery until the remains of McStay, his wife, Summer, and their two sons, ages 3 and 4, were found in shallow graves last year in the desert outside Victorville.

Merritt was arrested last week in Los Angeles.

Authorities say McStay and Merritt worked together designing water features.

Investigators haven't released a motive

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

re: Hernandez.

the cook book detail seems strange. if i saw a name in a cook book I wouldn't be sure it wasn't from a previous owner. i'd memorize it but still be unsure it was the right name.

surely six months living with somebody you'd see some junk mail at least. or something more proof positive that you's use as your tool to identify.

tania cadogan said...

off topic

Steve Powell - the father-in-law of Susan Powell, the Utah mother-of-two missing since 2009 – ‘continues to put the community at risk’ with violations of his parole, according to a new progress report from the Washington Department of Corrections.

Powell was released from state prison in March after serving 30 months in a voyeurism case, but since his release ‘has made no attempts or shown any desire to comply with the requirements of supervision or change his behavior’ the report states.

It also noted that Powell's actions and lack of cooperation with officials since being released from prison haven't allowed corrections officials to ‘thoroughly monitor his activities in order to maintain the safety of his victim(s) and the community.

‘Mr. Powell's adjustment to supervision can only be described as extremely poor,’ the report says, while further noting that his behavior ‘constituted an obvious risk to officer and community safety.’

The report recommends 60 days of ‘total confinement’ for Powell. A court hearing on his parole violations is scheduled for November 21, reports KSL.

The violations mentioned in the report are the latest in a series of legal wows Powell, 64, has been involved with since his release eight months ago.

In May 2012 he was convicted of 14 counts of voyeurism for taking surreptitious photos of two young neighbor girls in the bathroom of their home in Puyallup, Washington.

Last month, prosecutors refiled a charge of possession of child pornography against him after an appeals court determined that the charge was wrongly dismissed during his original trial.

A pretrial hearing on the refiled charge is scheduled for Wednesday and if convicted Powell could be sent back to prison for another five years.

On his release from prison in March, Powell was ordered to complete a sexual deviancy treatment program and undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation.

He was also ordered to stay away from places where juveniles are typically found such as pools, parks, playgrounds and schools.

In May, Powell was given a Sexual History Disclosure Examination polygraph and some of his responses were determined to be 'not truthful,' according to the report.

In July, police found Powell in a Jack in the Box fast-food restaurant and he was sentenced to nine days in jail for visiting an establishment frequented by minors, the report states.

In August, Powell's counselor 'terminated treatment' because Powell refused to cooperate with the psychosexual evaluation, according to the report.

His parole officer determined he was being 'manipulative,' and he was sentenced to 'three days confinement.'

Powell again refused to answer questions about his sexual behavior during treatment in October, according to the report.

He is the father of Josh Powell, who killed himself and his two sons - 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden - in 2012 after attacking them with a hatchet and blowing up their home.

Josh is suspected to have killed his wife, although family members have voiced their belief that Steven was complicit in her presumed death.

Thousands of images of Susan Powell were seized from the home that Steve Powell was sharing with his son in 2011 by police serving a search warrant.

The images - some sexually suggestive - showed the missing Utah mother walking in public and sitting in her car - apparently unaware that someone was taking her picture.

Other images seized during that search included those of the bathing young girls that were used to convict him of voyeurism charges in 2012.

Other photos showed a variety of women, apparently unaware that a camera was focused on them, as they walked along sidewalks, in the park or the mall.

tania cadogan said...

Steve Powell has never been charged with any crimes related to images of Susan Powell, but the files show she was often the focus of his lens.

Some of the images zoomed close to Susan Powell's crotch or her backside, including a set of photos taken through blinds as she's bending over and doing laundry

None of the pictures, which were found on a disc in Steve Powell's bedroom, show her naked.

The folder dedicated to Susan Powell contains nearly 4,500 images.

In journals made public by authorities, Powell describes himself as a 'voyeur' and Susan as an 'exhibitionist.'

He talked about using a mirror to spy on her under the bathroom door, and he wrote about taking sexual pleasure in looking at images of Susan Powell that he kept on his computer.

Powell wrote in his journals about taking lots of video of Susan during a trip to Silver Falls in 2009, and a folder of images from the trip shows only photos of her backside as she's walking.

In one entry, dated a few months before Susan Powell’s disappearance, Steve Powell wrote that he had just woken up 'from a most pleasant dream about Susan.'

He described a sexually charged dream in which Susan asked him, 'Do you think I would make a good wife for you?'

Anne Bremner, an attorney who represents Susan Powell's parents, said the images support the family's assertion that Steve Powell had a concerning attraction for his daughter-in-law.

'When you look at those pictures, it's clearly surreptitious. It's clearly obsessive,' Bremner said.

The family believes Steve Powell knows something about Susan Powell's disappearance, and authorities have described him as uncooperative.

Susan Powell, who was last seen at her West Valley City, Utah, home on Dec. 6, 2009, has never been found.

Records have shown that Utah investigators handling the case focused their attention primarily on her husband.

Anonymous said...

I am highly bothered by Michael McStay's behavior through his adopted brother being missing. Think of the Tim Miller walk through early on in the investigation. He is practically giddy, and soon goes into his brother's bank accounts w/o knowing his whereabouts?!

Summer's brother behaves appropriately solemn and even he is weirded out by Michael in that video. Then he predicated 'looking for shallow graves' before the family was found in shallow grades. Did LE tell him this? How would he know? I want to hear what the police have to link Chase to the murders? Did LE clean up the house before Michael got in to search w/ Tim Miller? Mr. Miller was weirded out by Michael's actions and left. There is report about Michael taking an illegal loan and his registering Joseph's business as his own. Joseph might have had to testify against Michael and the loan he took. SAD.

Chase Merrit stated in an interview, "I was the last one he (Joseph) saw." He said that with in the affirmative, when questioned about that a second time. That comment creeps me out. How could he definitely say he was the last, w/o knowing he was not able to see anyone again. i.e. dead

Anonymous said...

Child sexual abuse in Hollywood. This is a blatant and rampant tragedy beyond the scope of our imaginations. We have been hearing whispers about child Hollywood actors and actresses being sexually abused going back for several generations. I believe them all. It's no wonder so many kill themselves with drugs and alcohol at young ages, and others get blackballed.

Now, every time I see a child actor in a movie, in a reality show or a commercial, I automatically wonder if that child was sexually abused in order to get their part and keep it. I look at them all as if they were.

There will never be a shortage of these children who are made available to these pedophiles; just the many thousands waiting in the wings who long for, hope and believe they might land a small part by 'cooperating' in these deviant acts will continue to provide all the fresh meat these sickos desire regardless as to who might attempt to expose them.

In fact, those who do speak out against this flagrant child sexual abuse may find themselves mysteriously on the other side of dead. While I might admire them for exposing these child sex predator/criminals in high places, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes when payback rolls around. Would they also kill? Of course they would, or would have it done for them. These deviants have already proved themselves to be dangerous people looking out for their own self interests.

New England Water Blog said...

Off topic

Is she lying? Was she really raped?

"'I just don't talk about it. It's as if I'm telling someone else's story."

Read more:
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'I just don't talk about it. It's as if I'm telling someone else's story.

tania cadogan said...

'I thought it was done with and I could get on with my life,' she said.

'I didn't think he was going to get prosecuted so I just wanted to get on with my life but this has brought everything back. It doesn't feel what actually happened is the problem any more - it feels like that has actually been forgotten about. Once this is all over that's when it's going to come back and hit me.'

Read more:

Lots of passivity, i would expect anger that her rapist is not being prosecuted
It doesn't feel what actually happened is the problem any more - it feels like that has actually been forgotten about.
She doesn't say she was raped or assaulted rather it was something that actually happened.
Actually is used to compare two or more things.
She repeats actually twice making it sensitive.

it feels like that has actually been forgotten about
This is close , that is distancing.
Again she doesn't say it is rape or assault, only it is THAT.

Why does this remind me of charlie rogers?

tania cadogan said...

'I didn't think he was going to get prosecuted so I just wanted to get on with my life but this has brought everything back.

Looking at this again something struck me as odd.

I read it this time as, if i make an allegation i didn't think he would be prosecuted.

This would make sense if it was a fake allegation as there would be no forensic evidence of rape he would walk free and she, having got her revenge would be able to move on.

This makes more sense, it would explain the passivity, the lack of anger that her alleged rapist wasn't prosecuted.