In the latest example of someone from the film and television business sexually molesting children, British publicist Max Clifford was arrested as police continued their investigation into the filthy world of BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile’s massive sexual abuse of children.
Operation Yewtree was designed to investigate Savile, who serially abused underage girls, and others who were linked to him. The operation reportedly has found hundreds of victims.
Clifford is a famous PR agent who has represented Simon Cowell, British reality star Jade Goody and Mohamed al-Fayed, who used to own Harrod’s. Savile and Goody are now deceased. Clifford had become celebrities’ fix-it man when they got into trouble.
Ironically, last October Clifford said celebrities had contacted him because they were concerned that the Savile investigation would nab them: “They’re phoning me and saying, `Max, I’m worried that I’m going to be implicated.’ A lot of them can’t remember what they did last week, never mind 30 or 40 years ago.”
But here’s the real story: sexual abuse of children in the entertainment industry has run rampant for decades, and the industry simply doesn’t care. Here are just a few examples:
- Martin Weiss, a Hollywood manager of child actors. Arrested December 2011 and charged with sexual abuse of a client who was under 12. The victim told police that Weiss told him “what they were doing was common practice in the entertainment industry.”
- Fernando Rivas, an award-winning composer for “Sesame Street.” Arraigned in November 2011 on charges of forcing a child “to engage in sexually explicit conduct.”
- Jason James Murphy, casting agent and registered sex offender, 2011. Revealed in November 2011 to have kidnapped and sexually abused a boy. Murphy’s clients appeared in “Bad News Bears,” “The School of Rock,” “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” and “Three Stooges.”
- Victor Salva, director of the 1995 Disney film “Powder.” Salva confessed in 1988 that he had videotaped himself performing oral sex on the child star of his award-winning low-budget horror film, “Clownhouse.” He spent three years in prison. The producer of “Powder”, Roger Birnbaum, said Salva had “paid his debt to society.” Salva proudly stated, “I paid for my mistakes dearly. Now, nearly 10 years later, I am excited about my work as a filmmaker and look forward to continuing to make a positive contribution to our industry.”
In August of 2011, Corey Feldman, a former child star who starred with Corey Haim in “The Lost Boys,” went on “Nightline” to speak out about his own victimization and the pedophilia that is common in the entertainment industry.
“I can tell you that the No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia. That’s the biggest problem for children in this industry … It’s the big secret,” he says.
Feldman said he was “surrounded” by pedophiles as a young teenager on the set, and added that the sexual abuse of Haim by a “Hollywood mogul” whom Feldman didn’t name was what ultimately killed Haim at 38, saying bitterly: “That person needs to be exposed, but, unfortunately, I can’t be the one to do it.”
Sexual abuse of children in the entertainment industry isn’t restricted to recent events; Paul Peterson, one of the child stars on “The Donna Reed Show,” watched the “Nightline” interview and commented, “When I watched that interview, a whole series of names and faces from my history went zooming through my head. Some of these people, who I know very well, are still in the game.”
And Alison Angrim, one of the stars of “Little House on the Prairie,” who has disclosed her own abuse, agreed:
This has been going on for a very long time. It was the gossip back in the ’80s. People said, “Oh yeah, the Coreys, (Feldman and Haim) everyone’s had them.” People talked about it like it was not a big deal. I literally heard that they were “passed around.” The word was that they 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.
Nobody wants to stop the gravy train. 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.
It’s almost a willing sacrifice that many parents are oblivious to – what kind of environment do they think that they’re pushing their kid into? The casting couch is a real thing, and sometimes just getting an appointment makes people do desperate things. People don’t want to talk about this because they’re afraid for their careers. 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.