Hollywood’s Other ‘Open Secret’ Besides Harvey Weinstein: Preying on Young Boys
‘This is a place where adults have more direct and inappropriate connection with children than probably anywhere else in the world,’ claimed former child actor Corey Feldman.
Last week, former child actor Corey Feldman (Stand by Me, The Goonies) tweeted that he’d been asked for a statement about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual-harassment and rape allegations. It makes sense, since he has spent years speaking out about sexual abuse in Hollywood—not of women, but of young men. He has long alleged that pedophilia is the worst problem in Hollywood and that it’s in part responsible for his best friend Corey Haim’s eventual death by drug overdose.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, Feldman said: “[Haim] had more direct abuse than I did. With me, there were some molestations, and it did come from several hands, so to speak, but with Corey, his was direct rape, whereas mine was not actual rape. And his also occurred when he was 11. My son is 11 now, and I can’t even begin to fathom the idea of something like that happening to him. It would destroy his whole being. As I look at my son, a sweet, innocent, 11-year-old boy and then try to put him in Corey Haim’s shoes, I go, ‘Oh my God—well of course he was erratic and not well-behaved on sets and things like that.’ What more could we expect of him really?”
He continued, “Everybody deals with things differently. I’m not able to name names. People are frustrated, people are angry, they want to know how is this happening, and they want answers—and they turn to me and they say, ‘Why don’t you be a man and stand up and name names and stop hiding and being a coward?’ I have to deal with that, which is not pleasant, especially given the fact that I would love to name names. I’d love to be the first to do it. But unfortunately California conveniently enough has a statute of limitations that prevents that from happening. Because if I were to go and mention anybody’s name, I would be the one that would be in legal problems and I’m the one that would be sued. We should be talking to the district attorneys and the lawmakers in California, especially because this is where the entertainment industry is and this is a place where adults have more direct and inappropriate connection with children than probably anywhere else in the world.”
Legal problems stemming from sexual-harassment or -assault allegations are a major issue in Hollywood, and contribute to a culture of silence. Weinstein is alleged to have paid off at least eight of his accusers—on the condition that they agree to strict nondisclosure agreements to prevent their stories from going public. Furthermore, the movie mogul’s employment contract at The Weinstein Company reportedly protected him from being fired because of sexual-harassment allegations.
Beyond the legal hurdles, Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan alleges that the actor Ben Affleck knew about his sometime employer’s predatory behavior and failed to speak up, while other A-listers Matt Damon and Russell Crowe were named by journalist Sharon Waxman as unwittingly helping to kill a New York Times exposé on Weinstein back in 2004.
Similar barriers exist in the cases of abuse allegations from younger men in Hollywood. Feldman once discussed child abuse on The View, where Barbara Walters charged that he was “damaging an entire industry.”
And when people make allegations that are later withdrawn or dismissed, it becomes that much more difficult for victims to speak up. Famed director Bryan Singer (X-Men) has had accusations leveled against him for years, from a lawsuit alleging that he made minors shower in the nude on film for Apt Pupil in 1997 to sexual-abuse allegations in 2014. The Apt Pupil lawsuit was later dismissed due to lack of evidence, and the other sexual-abuse lawsuits were withdrawn by the accusers. However, that hasn’t stopped actors from singling out Singer. On Sunday, as the Weinstein scandal continued to unfold, actress Evan Rachel Wood tweeted, “Yeah lets not forget Brian [sic] Singer either.”
And then there was former The Real O’Neals star Noah Galvin, who in a since-deleted quote from an interview with Vulture, said: “Yeah. Bryan Singer likes to invite little boys over to his pool and diddle them in the f—ing dark of night. (Laughs.) I want nothing to do with that. I think there are enough boys in L.A. that are questionably homosexual who are willing to do things with the right person who can get them in the door. In New York there is a healthy gay community, and that doesn’t exist in L.A.”
The quote was later removed from the interview and Galvin issued an apology on Twitter: “I sincerely apologize to Bryan Singer for the horrible statement I made. My comments were false and unwarranted. It was irresponsible and stupid of me to make those allegations against Bryan, and I deeply regret doing so.”
The Singer allegations were also to be included in An Open Secret, filmmaker Amy Berg’s eye-opening documentary on the child sexual-abuse epidemic in Hollywood, but were later excised from the final cut. (Singer, for his part, stated that, “The allegations against me are outrageous, vicious, and completely false.”)
In the case of Weinstein, the abuse lasted decades, but it took an actress of Ashley Judd’s stature to finally speak out about him and let the floodgates open. Unfortunately, such a groundswell is not likely to come from an actor like Feldman, an ’80s star who doesn’t have the industry cachet of an Ashley Judd.
But perhaps the tide is turning and the shame associated with being a male victim of abuse is beginning to vanish. Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor Terry Crews spoke out last week about being sexually assaulted by a high-level Hollywood executive in the wake of the Weinstein news. So did James Van Der Beek, who blasted Weinstein for his crimes before sharing his own story: “What Weinstein is being accused of is criminal. What he’s admitted to is unacceptable—in any industry. I applaud everybody speaking out. I’ve had my ass grabbed by older, powerful men, I’ve had them corner me in inappropriate sexual conversations when I was much younger... I understand the unwarranted shame, powerlessness & inability to blow the whistle. There’s a power dynamic that feels impossible to overcome.”
If that weren’t enough, the media finally began taking the industry to task over its embrace of filmmaker Victor Salva.
In 1988, while filming his debut feature Clownhouse, Salva sexually abused his 12-year-old star. He eventually pleaded guilty to five felony counts: lewd and lascivious conduct, oral copulation with a person under 14, and three counts of procuring a child for pornography. Still, Salva has been allowed to direct film after film in the wake of his conviction, from Powder to the Jeepers Creepers trilogy.
Documentaries like An Open Secret and the testimony of former child actors like Feldman have long contested that pedophilia and the abuse of young men is Hollywood’s other dark secret. If that is truly the case, what more will it take for it to come to light?