In hopes of preventing the exploitation of children in California’s entertainment industry, a nonprofit for former child stars, A Minor Consideration, is advocating changes in the law that would require background checks and fingerprinting of talent agents in the entertainment industry.
One of the latest child abuse scandals involves the arrest of young talent manager Martin Weiss, on suspicion of child molestation. The allegations come from an 18-year-old former client who reported to police that he had been abused multiple times by Weiss over the course of three years. In another recent case, Jason James Murphy, a convicted child molester and registered sex offender, was casting children in movie roles.
Some industry insiders contend that child abuse in the entertainment industry rarely happens, however, others, including child abuse experts are not surprised. Founder of A Minor Consideration and former child actor on “The Donna Reed Show”, Paul Peterson, is pushing for stronger regulations. He would like to add background checks as part of the already existing California Talent Agencies Act, which protects artists from contract exploitation. Petersen and his group are asking for children to have access to “the same protections internationally for children that are enjoyed by animals in the entertainment industry.”
Many instances of child sexual abuse have come to light over the years in Hollywood. Several actors have come forward recently to say they were victims of sexual abuse as child actors. Corey Feldman alleges he suffered from sexual abuse as a child actor, as did his friend Corey Haim, which he blamed as the cause of Haim’s death. As well, it was recently discovered that William Blankenship, a film editor for "John & Kate Plus 8”, was charged with 10 counts of possessing child pornography.
There is hope that as more have come forward, that those with authority will take action to ensure proper screening is done for those working with children. When Paramount Pictures learned of the history of Jason James Murphy, who cast child actors in the film “Super 8”, the studio took decisive action. According to a Paramount spokesman, they will now “conduct background checks on all freelance employees, full-time and part-time, who work with minors on our productions.”
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