10 allegations of sexual abuse to come from Hollywood

10 allegations of sexual abuse to come from Hollywood

For years now, it seems that sexual abuse and harassment has been an occupational hazard in Hollywood - the place where the beautiful and the talented flock to, seeking fame and fortune. In Tinsel Town, the exploitation of vulnerable people working in the industry at the hands of the rich and powerful has been an open secret. Yet now that one of the wealthiest and best-connected executive producers in cinema has been accused of repeated cases of sexual harassment by multiple women, it seems as though things are about to change.

After decades of silence, victims are starting to come forward to share their personal accounts of the coercion and inappropriate behaviour they suffered at his hands. Weinstein has vehemently denied accusations that his sexual encounters have ever been non-consensual, although he has admitted to instances of impropriety. Only a trial will reveal whether or not Weinstein is indeed guilty of the crimes he's been accused of, but this isn't the first time that a major showbiz personality has been denounced regarding sexual abuse. Some have been found guilty, others have been cleared, and some have only ever been indicted through gossip. But Hollywood's problematic relationship with sex crimes reaches back far into the past.

1. Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski is one of the most acclaimed moviemakers ever, responsible for helming films like Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist, Chinatown and many others. Yet the Polish director's career has been overshadowed by controversy for the last 40 years. In 1977, Polanski was found guilty of having sex with a minor at actor Jack Nicholson's home. Samantha Gailey was 13 years old when Polanski had intercourse with her shortly after a Vogue magazine photoshoot. Polanski was charged on charged on five counts of sexual abuse, and accepted a plea bargain during his trial. Polanski fled to France to escape imprisonment, and has lived there ever since. He still bears the risk of extradition to this day.

2. Corey Haim and Corey Feldman 

Corey Haim was one of the best-regarded child actors of the 1980s, and became a household name after he starred in the teen vampire flick Lost Boys alongside Corey Feldman and Kiefer Sutherland, among other projects. In Feldman's 2013 memoir Coreyography he states that he and Haim were both groomed by Hollywood predators during the filming of Lucas. Feldman claimed that Haim in particular had been exploited by adults, had been subjected to non-consensual anal sex, and had been plied with drugs and alcohol. Feldman was unable to name these predators himself due to fears of litigation and libel suits.

3. Bob Villard

Bob Villard was a children’s agent who once represented Leonardo DiCaprio, helping the Oscar-winning star to secure a number of important breaks early on in his career. However, the agent harboured paedophilic tendencies. In 1987 he was charged with transportation of child pornography, and sentenced to three years probation in 2001 after police allegedly discovered "thousands of photographs of boys in skimpy bathing suits" in his home.

4. Victor Salva

Victor Salva was a director and screenwriter responsible for horror movies such as Jeepers Creepers, and Clownhouse. Yet the real horror lay behind the camera and behind the scenes. In 1988, Salva was convicted of sexual misconduct with one of the underage stars of Clownhouse, and even recorded one of the sex acts. Police also discovered VHS tapes and other forms of child pornography in his home. Salva pleaded guilty to lewd conduct and oral sex with a 12-year-old boy along with child pornography charges and was sentenced to three years in state prison. He has since been released, and the third instalment of the Jeepers Creepers franchise was released this year.

5. Woody Allen

There are few cinephiles out there who haven't seen at least one Woody Allen movie, and his trademark brand of nebbish, neurotic humour is a part of popular culture. Yet for years the daughter of his former partner Mia Farrow has alleged that Allen is in fact a sexual predator, and that Allen forced himself on her when Farrow was a young child. According to Dylan Farrow, she first notified her mother that Allen was responsible for sexually abusing her when she was seven years old, and has pursued a legal campaign against her former stepfather ever since. In addition to this, Allen later went on to marry Soon-Yi Previn; the adopted daughter of Farrow and her former husband, who had been a child when Allen first knew her.

6. Bryan Singer

Bryan Singer is probably best known for bringing Marvel's X-Men superheroes to the silver screen, but has also directed Superman Returns, Apt Pupil and The Usual Suspects. However, since the mid 90s, Singer had been dogged by rape accusations. In 1997, a 14-year-old extra accused Singer of asking him and other minors to film a nude shower scene, and in April 2014 actor and model Michael Egan accused Singer of drugging and raping him in Hawaii some 15 years previously. Singer's attorney later presented evidence that neither he nor Egan were in Hawaii at the time of the incident. Yet a month after the first accusation, another lawsuit was filed by an anonymous man stating that Singer was guilty of sex abuse while filming Superman Returns. This case was later dropped at the accuser's request.

7. Bill Cosby

Since the 1960s, the actor Bill Cosby has faced more than 50 accusations of date rape, sexual misconduct and child abuse. The actor, star of I, Spy, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and the Cosby Show, was outed publicly as being subject to a large number of sexual assault accusations by stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress, after a routine of his went viral in October 2014. In a 2015 testimony, Cosby admitted that he had routinely engaged in casual sex with women, and that these encounters involved use of the sedative Quaaludes. As a result of these revelations, a number of prominent organisations have severed all endorsement from him.

8. Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly, conservative media pundit and news anchor, was once considered the face of Fox News. Yet in 2016 several news anchors, including Andrea Tantaros and Juliet Huddy, alleged that O'Reilly had sexually harassed them and attempted to intimidate them into pursuing a romantic relationship with him. On April 19, 2017, Fox News fired O'Reilly from the network.

9. Casey Affleck

In 2010, the actor and brother of Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, was sued by two former co-workers. Amanda White, who pursued a claim of $2 million against the actor, alleged that Affleck had exposed himself to her and made numerous unwanted sexual advances. Cinematographer Magdalena Gorka sued Affleck for $2.25 million and claimed that he had climbed into bed with her while drunk. Affleck denied the allegations and the lawsuits were later mediated and settled out of court.

10. Harvey Weinstein

After the publication of a damning article in the New Yorker, Harvey Weinstein now faces accusations of sexual assault and sexual harassment from a number of female actresses, who all asserted that Weinstein attempted to intimidate them into having sexual intercourse with him. Victims of Weinstein allegedly include Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, who even went so far as to volunteer for a sting operation against the movie mogul. Weinstein is currently in rehab for sex addiction after being fired from the company that bears his name, and denies the accusations against him.

If the allegations against Weinstein prove to be true, then we can only hope that other powerful producers, who may also have abused their authority, will take more responsibility for their casting couch culture, and hopefully other victims will be encouraged to speak out. Although we should not discount those who have spoken out against him, it's important to note that Weinstein remains innocent until proven guilty, and only time will tell whether the jury will side with him or against him.