Sexual Abuse in Hollywood
The topic of sexual abuse in Hollywood began to make headlines in 2017 after hundreds of women spoke out against Harvey Weinstein, producer and founder of Miramax and the Weinstein Company. Since then, hundreds of more women have come forward and discussed experiencing child sexual abuse and sexual abuse as adults at the hands of powerful men in Hollywood.
However, what many people don’t know is that the #MeToo movement actually began in 2006. Tarana Burke began using the term to raise awareness for women who had been abused. The phrase “Me Too” went viral after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted the phrase. Milano was one of the many women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault.
The “Me Too” movement sent a wave of change throughout Hollywood, with Harvey Weinstein acting as a symbolic case for the movement. Since then, victims of sexual violence and sexual assault in Hollywood began to come forward, telling their stories of sexual abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment at the hands of many powerful people in Hollywood. These courageous women felt that their voices could finally be heard without risking their careers.
How common is sexual abuse in Hollywood?
A USA Today survey found that 94% of women allege they have experienced some form of sexual assault or sexual harassment throughout their careers in Hollywood. This high percentage means that nearly every woman of the 843 women surveyed has experienced sexual abuse in Hollywood. Even more eye-opening is that more than one-fifth of the respondents, 21% to be exact, have reported being forced to complete a sexual act at least once in their careers.
From the same survey, the results showed that for the respondents:
- 87% have received unwelcome sexual comments, jokes, or gestures
- 75% have witnessed others hearing unwanted sexual comments
- 69% reported that they had been touched in a sexual way
- 65% have witnessed others advance professionally in their careers by having a sexual relationship with employers or managers
- 64% allege that they have been propositioned for a sexual act or a relationship
- 39% reported that they had been shown sexual pictures without consent
- 29% have experienced someone flashing or exposing themselves to them
- 21% stated that they had been forced to do a sexual act
- 10% claim that they were ordered unexpectedly to appear naked for auditions.
Another startling statistic is that only one in four of these women actually reported their experiences to anyone. Fully 75% of women did not report sexual assault, abuse, or harassment because they feared personal or professional retaliation.
Of the women who did report the sexual abuse, only 28% said that their workplace situation improved once they reported. The remaining respondents stated that reporting did not help them.
In an Anita Hill-led Hollywood Commission survey, 1 in 20 people, during the twelve months leading up to the survey, said they were sexually assaulted while at work. The survey also found:
- A total of 270 of the 5,399 women (5%) reported they were sexually assaulted on the job in the previous year.
- More than 1,000 anonymous respondents said they were subjected to sexual coercion in the previous year.
- More than 2,250 anonymous respondents reported that they experienced unwanted sexual attention while on the job.
The abuse is not isolated to women. Males also reported and sexual abuse on the job, but at around 50% of the rate women experienced the abuse.
There is one positive note to take away from the survey. Nearly 70% of respondents reported that they have seen “moderate to a lot of progress” in the industry at implementing measures to prevent harassment since the original wave of litigation against powerful Hollywood men in October 2017.
Why is sexual abuse so common in Hollywood?
For decades, women in the workforce, in general, experienced sexual harassment but never reported the harassment due to lack of encouragement to report instances of sexual abuse and lack of knowledge of what sexual abuse and sexual harassment were. Many women felt that because incidents of sexual abuse happened so frequently, it essentially created a culture where sexual harassment in the workplace was the functioning norm.
Since few people complained, and leaders in the workplace never did anything about it, sexual misconduct could flourish. The significant factor within the entertainment industry is that men are those with influence and power over other people’s careers. This power created an environment typical for perpetrators to abuse others or sexually coerce others.
These influential figures often use intimidation and coercion to silence their victims. Many individuals felt that even if they did come forward, no one would believe them, and they would be forced to go through a lengthy and costly legal process.
Often, in the past, the victim’s concerns were realized.
Many people may have even known about an abuser’s predatory ways. Yet, they chose to stay silent about it for fear of their own careers. This led to an environment of secrecy, cover-ups, and no accountability for abusers. Since the early Hollywood days, the powerful men that ran the industry would host parties and other events, luring women with dreams of being a dancer, extra, or actor. In a recent article, the History Channel reported that these figures created a “pervasive culture of sexual exploitation that was aided and abetted by the most storied studios of Hollywood’s Golden Age.”
The article states that since there was no concept of workplace harassment, it was just viewed as “party favors” by men on set. The sexual abuse and sexual harassment within the entertainment industry were seeded from the sexual abuse and harassment that was created since the inception of Hollywood itself. Only recently have women and men been able to come forward and speak about the common knowledge of the prevalence of this abuse as alleged victims.
However, no matter who a perpetrator is, they should always be held accountable for the damages and injuries they cause their victims. An experienced Hollywood sex abuse lawyer knows how to pursue legal action against these abusers to help victims seek justice.
How did the #MeToo movement start?
As mentioned, the #MeToo movement actually started in 2006, long before the women began speaking out against Harvey Weinstein. However, 2017 was the year when the world woke up to the magnitude of the issue of sexual violence.
Specifically, on October 5, 2017, actress Ashley Judd came forward, accusing Harvey Weinstein in a New York Times report. On October 12, 2017, the head of Amazon Studios, Roy Price, resigned after producer Isa Hackett accused him of lewd behavior and propositions in 2015. Just three days later, on October 15, 2017, Alyssa Milano went viral for her “Me Too” tweet, calling anyone who has been sexually harassed or assault to write ‘me too’ as a reply to her tweet.
On October 18, 2017, Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney tweeted that Dr. Larry Nassar, the team’s former doctor, had sexually assaulted her. On October 29, 2017, Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of making sexual advances towards him when he was 14 years old.
The events that followed in 2017 alone include reports and allegations against:
- Roy Moore
- Louis C.K.
- Matt Lauer
- Garrison Keillor
- Russell Simmons
- U.S. Senator Al Franken
- Woody Allen
- Mario Batali
- Gary Goddard.
In 2018, more than 300 Hollywood women formed an anti-harassment coalition named Times Up.
For most of the predators’ careers, people either knew of the abuse surrounding the perpetrators or had an idea that it was happening. Especially with Harvey Weinstein, dark rumors had swirled around his horrifying actions for years. Yet, people rarely spoke about these rumors. Why did the survivors finally decide to come forward?
The turning point in revealing Weinstein’s despicable actions was when Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey wrote and released a New York Times’ story on October 5, 2017. This piece focused on a series of allegations by Weinstein’s female assistants and actors. On October 10, 2017, journalist Ronan Farrow released a piece in The New Yorker that focused on a series of other accusations.
On May 25, 2018, Weinstein surrendered to the police, and by July 2, 2018, additional charges were filed against the producer. By January 2020, the trial against Weinstein began, and on February 24, 2020, a Manhattan jury found Weinstein guilty in a mixed verdict. On March 11, 2020, Weinstein received a 23-year prison sentence.
This critical turning point showed victims of sexual assault that they no longer have to be silent – people are listening to their stories, and they are being heard. This monumental case changed the way survivors of sexual violence across the world react to sexual assault – inspiring them to come forward, showing they can receive justice and they can hold their abusers accountable.
How many men in Hollywood have been accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault?
In addition to the men we mentioned above, hundreds of other men in Hollywood have been accused of sexual assault as well. Some of the biggest names facing allegations include:
- Bill Cosby – In 2018, Cosby was convicted of aggravated indecent assault after being accused by numerous women of drug-facilitated sexual assault, rape, child sexual abuse, sexual battery, and sexual misconduct.
- Tony Robbins – BuzzFeed News published an article on May 17, 2019, detailing the findings of a year-long investigation into the famous self-help guru. Former female employees and fans accused him of inappropriate sexual advances.
- Bryan Singer – The director has faced allegations of sexual misconduct involving male minors since 1997. He has been involved in multiple lawsuits between 2014 and 2017.
- Chris Brown – Brown has been accused (and pled guilty to some claims) of domestic violence, aggression towards women, felony assault, sexual violence, and rape.
- Brett Kavanaugh – In September 2018, Christine Blasey Ford courageously came forward against Kavanaugh, testifying about the alleged sexual assault she experienced as a teenager at the hands of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
- Les Moonves – Six women came forward against the chief executive of the CBS Corporation, accusing him of sexual harassment and assault. Six additional women came forward in September 2019.
- Sylvester Stallone – A Los Angeles District Attorney spokesperson announced on June 13, 2018, that the office was “reviewing a sex crime case” against Sylvester Stallone.
- Jamie Foxx – TMZ reported on June 13, 2018, that a woman came forward accusing Foxx of “slapping her in the face with his penis” in 2002 after she refused to perform oral sex on him.
- Riff Raff – Australian native Eliza Stafford came forward on May 31, 2018, alleging that rapper Riff Raff raped her in 2013 when she was backstage at a concert.
- Morgan Freeman – CNN reported on May 24, 2018, that eight different women accused Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment.
- Nev Schulman – The MTV Catfish star was accused of sexual misconduct in May 2018.
- R. Kelly – Over two decades, R. Kelly has been sued for sexual misconduct with minors, making a sex tape with a minor, and allegedly creating a ‘cult’ where women were ‘held against their will.’ In February 2019, two additional women came forward alleging abuse at the hands of R. Kelly.
These are just a few of the well-known men accused of sexual assault in Hollywood. Other men include:
- Brett Ratner
- Nick Carter
- Luke Walton
- A.J. Calloway
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
- Noel “Detail” Fisher
- Junot Díaz
- Tom Brokaw
- Blake Farenthold
- John Bailey
- Richard Meier
- Tony Tooks
- Charlie Rose
- Jeff Franklin
- Ryan Seacrest
- Justin Forsyth
- Paul Marciano
- Patrick Demarchelier
- Jay Asher
- Scott Baio
- Wayne Pacelle
- Vincent Cirrincione
- Charlie Walk
- James Franco
- Chuck Close
- Steve Wynn
- Michael Douglas
- Joel Kramer
- Aziz Ansari
- Paul Haggis
- Corey Lewandowski
- Danny Masterson
- Bruce Weber
- Richard Branson
- Andrew Kreisberg
- Geraldo Rivera
- Roy Moore
- Jeffrey Tambor
- Ed Westwick
- Jeremy Piven
- Dustin Hoffman
- George H.W. Bush
- Steven Seagal
- James Toback
- Tucker Carlson.
You can find complete lists of the men who have been accused here.
Who has been convicted of sexual abuse?
In addition to Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, the following list contains names of other powerful men in Hollywood that have been convicted of sex crimes:
- Gary Glitter – convicted of attempted rape, assault, and sex with a minor.
- Roman Polanski – pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor.
- Mike Tyson – found guilty of raping an 18-year-old woman.
- Tupac Shakur – convicted of first-degree sexual abuse.
- Allison Mack – pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges to recruit women into a sex cult.
- Keith Raniere – convicted of sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a child, and possession of child pornography.
As you can see, since 2017, hundreds have women have stepped forward with allegations against men in Hollywood. The claims do not end there, though. Just recently, the following men and institutions face allegations of sexual crimes:
- Marilyn Manson – The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating allegations made by five women, including Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood, against Manson. Most recently, Game of Thrones star Esmé Bianco has filed a lawsuit against Manson, alleging physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse over a span of the multiple years they were in a relationship together. Bianco is also suing Manson’s former manager, Tony Ciulla, stating that he violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act when “Manson employed fraud to bring Bianco to the U.S.”
- Noel Clarke – The British actor and writer is facing allegations of sexual harassment on the set of Doctor Who. Twenty women came forward with claims of Clarke groping them, bullying them, and engaging in acts of other sexual misconduct.
- International Creative Management (ICM) – The L.A. times published a series of accusations putting ICM in the spotlight for its toxic incidents and scandals. The piece demonstrates a large number of sexual harassment allegations at the agency. Many in Hollywood believe this type of environment is not unique to ICM. Rather, they believe the environment is common to all of the major agencies.
How many women have spoken out against their abusers?
While thousands of incidents have occurred, only recently are women speaking out against their abusers. The ripple effect started when a few prominent names came forward, giving lesser-known female actors, extras, dancers, and other workers in the industry the confidence to speak out, knowing that they would be believed.
Some of the major names of the women and men who have disclosed their abuse include:
- Lady Gaga – The singer says it took years of therapy to recover after being raped at 19.
- Terry Crews – The former professional football player and current actor suffered groping and has taken legal action against his alleged aggressor.
- Gabrielle Union – The actor detailed how she suffered PTSD and was raped at gunpoint as a young woman.
- Lena Dunham – The author related how when she was sexually assaulted, she did not report the incident to the police because she feared no one would believe her.
- AnnaLynne McCord – The actor, who played a role in which her character was sexually assaulted, suffered the same fate in real life.
- Amy Schumer – The actor details how her former boyfriend raped her while she slept.
- Brendan Fraser – Groped and humiliated, this actor didn’t go public with what happened to him until several years later.
Evan Rachel Wood – A survivor of two rapes, this actor believes that victims can no longer afford to remain silent.
Is sexual abuse more common with child stars?
While sexual abuse is prevalent throughout the entire entertainment industry, another unspoken tragedy is the amount of child sexual abuse that happens to child stars. The #MeToo movement has made incredible strides for women in the industry and preventing sexual abuse and harassment in general. However, there still remains a deep-rooted horrifying reality that is going largely undiscussed – that being child sexual abuse.
In 2017, eight men came forward to speak about how Hollywood producer and theme-park designer Gary Goddard allegedly sexually abused them as children. They recount the abuse happening on Disneyland rides when they stayed in places overnight while on a statewide theater tour and backstage during the 1970s.
Alex Winter came forward explaining how he felt extreme PTSD after experiencing child sexual abuse.
Corey Feldman and Corey Haim were both abused at the hands of an elite Hollywood circle of pedophiles that passed the two boys around. Corey Haim, who found fame with The Lost Boys, overdosed at the age of 39.
Elijah Wood told the Sunday Times how his mother protected him as a child star, though he knew of those parties where adults would prey on children. He recently spoke out about Hollywood’s pedophilia problem, stating that many people in the industry view children as open prey.
Joey Coleman was one of the multiple former child actors who were part of the controversial documentary, An Open Secret. The documentary described the sexual predators that exist in Hollywood’s acting industry. Coleman alleged that former child actor-manager, Michael Harrah, abused him and presented a taped telephone conversation as proof.
Hollywood’s exploitation of children
Corey Feldman and Corey Haim were known as the Two Coreys. They both were victims of child sexual abuse, and now Corey Feldman is exposing how Hollywood exploited them as young boys. Feldman created the documentary ‘(My) Truth: The Rape of 2 Coreys,’ which details the allegations of sexual abuse. Feldman emphasizes in his writings that “what has happened to children in my industry was by and large ignored and, at this point, it’s been all but brushed under the rug. Hollywood seems much more ready to accept responsibility for what it’s done to women than they are willing to face that there is still a deep-seated virus within this industry.”
He wants to be a voice for the children in the industry and for survivors of sexual abuse. He is now the ambassador of an organization called Child USA.
Feldman spoke to The Hollywood Reporter in an in-depth interview on the pedophilia ring that exists in Hollywood. Feldman opened up about Haim’s rape when he was just eleven years old and the dark side of Michael Jackson. Feldman talks about how his abuse was molestation but not direct rape.
Feldman at first stated that he could not name names due to statute of limitations issues. However, that Hollywood Reporter interview was conducted in 2016. More recently, states have changed the laws around the statute of limitations, allowing some victims to come forward no matter how long ago the abuse happened. California, in particular, has enacted a lookback window, which we discuss further below.
The most shocking part of the interview was regarding the huge Hollywood parties where powerful men would rape boys at gunpoint, force them to do cocaine, and perform other horrifying acts. Feldman believes that Haim’s rapist was likely connected to a bigger pedophilia ring, which may explain how the rapist was able to remain protected for all these decades.
All of these predators could have been friends. The common knowledge within the industry was that, at the time, the two Coreys were being passed around by publicists, photographers, and other entertainment industry workers.
The parties would consist of kids, ranging in age from ten to sixteen years old, and a handful of men. These parties were meant to groom the children. In 2020, Feldman began naming names, including:
- The late Dominick Brascia
- Charlie Sheen (Feldman claims he raped Haim while they filmed the movie ‘Lucas’ in 1986)
- Alphy Hoffman
- Jon Grissom
- Marty Weiss.
The former child actor believes that adult males in the entertainment industry continue to prey on young boys behind closed doors today. If anything, Feldman believes that it is more common today, as men can use the internet to contact young boys, like on Twitter or Facebook. They might allege that they are prominent in the industry and can help the young boy with their big break. The internet allows predators to have access to young boys everywhere.
If you were abused as a child while in Hollywood, you do not have to go through the healing journey alone. While nothing can make up for the horrifying acts the abusers did to you, you have legal rights and can seek help. An experienced sex abuse lawyer will advocate for your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Why did it take so long for people to come forward against sexual abusers in Hollywood?
As Feldman mentioned in 2016, many abused victims, both as children or adults who experienced sexual assault decades ago, could no longer bring a claim due to statute of limitations issues. However, besides the legal element of being able to bring a claim, there are many psychological and emotional reasons why individuals might wait to come forward regarding sexual abuse.
Particularly in Hollywood, if an individual speaks out against a well-known abuser, they will likely lose their privacy. Many victims’ lives are upended when they come forward. Reporters, paparazzi, and other people throughout the world will dig into their pasts to determine whether or not they believe the allegations. Though the notion is that you should always believe the victim, many people choose not to and instead attack the character of victims when they come forward. Many victims do not want to experience that.
Another related reason is that they are afraid that no one will believe them. With sexual assaults, whether the abuse happened decades ago or recently if there is no police report (or even sometimes where there is a police report), it turns into a “he said she said” situation. Only recently have people believed what “she says.”
Further, many friends and fans of the well-known people in the industry will drag the victims’ names through the mud to defend the well-known person. In Andrea Costand’s victim impact statement, when she disclosed the rape allegations against Bill Cosby, she stated that she “was called a gold digger, a con artist, and a pathological liar. My hard-working middle class parents were accused of trying to get money from a rich and famous man.”
Often, the victims’ motives are questioned, claiming that they are just out for money. Notably, many victims of sexual abuse were threatened with retaliation to their professional careers if they ever disclosed the abuse. These powerful men in Hollywood intimidated victims into believing that their careers were in the powerful men’s hands.
Finally, many victims, both in and out of Hollywood, blame themselves. They struggle to decide whether they should report the abuse because they wonder if they could have done something to prevent it. Yet, what these victims fail to understand is that in no way were their actions the cause for the abuse. Men and women who abuse are the culprits; they act in a horrifying, abusive manner. These abusers deserve punishment, and the notion of victim-blaming must be eliminated.
What should I do if I was sexually abused in Hollywood?
If you experienced sexual abuse or any other form of sexual violence in Hollywood, you have the right to seek compensation to help pay for any damages your abuser caused you.
If you recently experienced any sort of sexual abuse, you can take these steps to help cope with the trauma for long-term recovery:
- Ensure that you are safe. Immediately after any sort of sexual assault, most people experience shock, denial, self-blame, derealization, and a sense of being overwhelmed. Use coping mechanisms to process what has happened and to try to feel more comfortable in the face of significant stressors. This could mean calling your closest confidant, sleeping with layers, having a weighted blanket, or anything else that can help you feel safer in your own skin.
- Find support. Whether you want to go to therapy, find a support group, or confide in close family and friends, find people to support you. Do not bottle up the incident. It is vital to confide in someone that you trust.
- Consider medical options. Pursue medical attention immediately. Having a medical report of any injuries from the assault can be crucial in any legal proceedings. If you are not ready to file a police report with law enforcement, some centers store the medical report and other evidence for later access. It can be challenging to come to terms with what happened and pursue action.
- Consider legal options. While the thought of reliving the experience while filing a report or pursuing a legal claim might seem daunting, it could help with the healing process to receive justice. A compassionate, experienced sexual abuse law firm can help you process what happened and work on your behalf to try to hold the abuser accountable for what they did to you.
There is not just one right way to take steps to process what happened. Everyone’s healing journey may vary. However, every survivor of sexual assault deserves to seek justice, receive compensation to help pay for the therapy and other costs that go into the healing journey, and also hold the perpetrators responsible for the abuse.
An experienced law firm will guide you every step of the way to help you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
When do I have to file a claim by?
If you experienced sexual abuse in California, you might be able to file a claim even if the abuse happened decades ago. The state has enacted various statutes of limitations for different types of sex crimes.
For anyone who was abused as an adult (meaning the victim was 18 years old or older), the time limit for when the victim can bring a claim is within ten years from the date of the last instance of abuse, attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act, of sexual assault by the perpetrator against the victim. However, the caveat to this deadline is that the victim can also bring a claim within three years from the date that the victim discovered, or reasonably should have discovered, that the sexual abuse directly caused their illness or injury.
This means that if you were abused in your twenties but did not realize that the abuse is what directly caused some of your injuries or illnesses, you can still bring a claim within three years of your discovery that the abuse was the cause for your injuries. This new statute of limitations went into effect on January 1, 2019.
Child victims of sexual assault now have until they turn forty years old, or within five years of discovering the abuse, to file a civil lawsuit. This new law went into effect in January 2020. The new law also created a three-year lookback window, which allows child victims of sexual abuse to be able to file a claim, no matter how old they are and no matter how long ago the abuse happened.
However, this lookback window will expire on December 31, 2022. Therefore, if you were abused, even decades ago, you can still bring a claim within this window. Many victims have been able to use this window to come forward and seek justice against their abusers and the institutions that allowed the abuse to happen to them as a child.
How much compensation can I receive if someone sexually abused me in Hollywood?
The amount of compensation a victim of sexual assault may receive in their lawsuit will entirely depend on the facts of each case. An experienced sexual abuse attorney will help you gather all of the evidence you need to prove your claim and pursue a fair amount of compensation for you. This analysis involves evaluating the following factors:
- Whether you were denied any sort of promotion, wages, stock options, bonuses, jobs, commissions, or any other benefits you should have received for either refusing to engage in sexual acts or being forced to engage in sexual acts.
- Any medical bills, medical costs, or any other medical expenses related to the assault, including costs for therapy, medications, or psychiatric treatment.
- Any costs for relocation if you had to move after the abuse.
- Any costs for lost wages from the job.
- Any loss of earning potential.
- Non-economic damages for any pain and suffering that the abuse caused you, which can include loss of enjoyment of activities, reputational damage, loss of consortium, and humiliation.
To prove these factors, you need as much relevant evidence as possible. An experienced lawyer will be able to help you by gathering this evidence to establish and support all of the damages that the abuse caused you.
Should I contact a sexual abuse lawyer?
Yes. A knowledgeable sexual assault lawyer will help you through every step of filing and proving your claim. These steps include:
- Explaining all of your legal rights and the legal avenues you can pursue.
- Helping you gather all of the necessary evidence to support your claim, including witness testimonies, work and employment records, medical records, therapy and psychiatric treatment histories, and any other evidence that could support your claim.
- Ensuring you file your claim before the statute of limitations runs out.
- Filing all of the correct documents with the relevant legal research, case law, and evidence to support your claim.
- Negotiating with the other parties and handling all communications regarding the amount of compensation you deserve.
You do not have to go through the complex legal processes of receiving compensation and justice for your traumatic experience alone. Sexual abuse lawyers who know the ins and outs of the law will help you every step of the way.
When should I contact an experienced sex abuse attorney?
As soon as possible. Again, even if the sexual violence happened decades ago, you may still be able to pursue a claim. It is crucial that you contact a compassionate, knowledgeable sex abuse lawyer to help you learn about your legal rights.
Herman Law has a team of knowledgeable attorneys with extensive experience and an in-house investigative team to help you gather everything you need to pursue a claim. Contact Herman Law now for a free case evaluation so that we can learn more about your case and whether you can pursue a claim.