Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Timeline of Child Abuse in Hollywood

Following Elijah Wood’s recent comments in the Sunday Times, public attention has quickly turned to entertainment industry “vipers,” and those leveraging their position and prestige to sexually exploit children. The actor spoke to the UK paper about the prevalence of abuse and the difficulty in addressing it, because victims “can’t speak as loudly as people in power.”

Wood later clarified his remarks on Twitter, explaining that, while this is an issue he feels “is an important one that should be discussed,” his interest was piqued by a recent documentary, not personal experience. He stressed: “I cannot speak with any authority beyond articles I have read and films I have seen.”

The role of the celebrity in industry abuse cases is often used to shape its narrative. Wood’s interview marks just one more in a myriad of recent examples. The celebrity abuser, as much as the celebrity victim, or the celebrity activist, elevates the issue; recently revived allegations against Bill Cosby and Woody Allen have not only dominated the news cycles over the past year, but much of the conversation around industry abuse itself. It is crucial to hold both men accountable for their actions. But it is also important to realize that many of these Hollywood abusers, and the majority of their victims, are not household names. In a 2012 report on child sexual abuse cases, the Los Angeles Times wrote that a number of cases involved “lesser-known assailants employed at all levels of the industry,” from an on-set tutor to an acting coach, along with talent agents, managers, and production assistants. Because the abuse is so widespread, the boys and girls affected are likewise at “all levels” of their career: from child stardom to suburban aspiration.

As with the weight of their names, the new developments in the Allen and Cosby cases have the effect of making Wood’s remarks feel particularly timely, and they are. But they have been relevant for much longer. Below, we constructed a short timeline of the major cases and developments in Hollywood abuse history.  (more...)

A Catholic perspective:

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