A new, highly acclaimed documentary purports to blow the lid off rampant sex abuse of child actors in Hollywood and the stunning lack of consequences in an industry that consistently gives offenders more work – even if they’ve been convicted.
Titled “An Open Secret,” the film examines accounts of sexual abuse over the past few decades. It features former child stars Todd Bridges and Corey Feldman, among many others. But Producer Gabe Hoffman says the problem is much deeper than a couple of famous names.
“It continues to be a problem,” Hoffman told WND and Radio America. “We have a number of much more contemporary cases. One in particular, ‘Evan H.,’ which was only just a couple of years ago. In ‘An Open Secret,’ we tend to focus on cases where there are actual convictions or lawsuits that were won. This is incredibly documented stuff.”
Hoffman said the investigation into the scourge of sex abuse of children in Hollywood was never meant to spawn a documentary.
“We didn’t set out to make a film,” he said. “This initially started as a research project with a film company. We looked at the evidence that was gathered and were absolutely compelled to make sure that ‘An Open Secret’ became a film. Just in our possession, we had five to 10 times as much credible evidence as you’ll see in ‘An Open Secret.’ The depth and breadth is truly astonishing,” Hoffman said.
But the alleged horrors don’t end there. Hoffman said the second layer of the scandal is that Hollywood continues to provide work for the offenders.
“What is truly amazing is the common-sense, simple, good-citizen steps that Hollywood studios can take right now to get the pedophiles off sets,” Hoffman said.
“Just like any small business, why can’t a Hollywood studio type in someone’s name and say, ‘Gosh, I don’t want this convicted pedophile in the building, on the set where children might be’? Our laws say that kids are protected from convicted offenders. They can’t be within a couple thousand feet of a school, let alone in the building. In Hollywood, it’s OK, as long as they’re not one-on-one.”
The documentary names many figures in the entertainment industry who have admitted or been convicted of sexual abuse of children. Hoffman shared a few for this interview, including actor Brian Peck.
“He’s ingrained in the Hollywood elite, and even after his conviction for child sex abuse, Brian Peck worked as recently as 2013 on the hit TV show, ‘Anger Management,’ the one that starred Charlie Sheen,” Hoffman said.
“Victor Salva is the director of the ‘Jeepers Creepers’ franchise, of which there are several. He also filmed ‘Powder.’ In 1989, Victor Salva was convicted of child sexual abuse with a 12-year-old boy, served time, and now he’s a major director and hardly anybody talks about him,” Hoffman said.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Producer Gabe Hoffman:
Even those charged with protecting kids have been part of the problem.
“We had an example in ‘An Open Secret’ where a very prominent member of one of the largest Hollywood unions, who was serving on the committee to protect children, we exposed him as a pedophile,” Hoffman said.
He said there are many more horror stories.
“We don’t even address the huge number of cases that we know of that get settled privately,” he said. “In ‘An Open Secret,’ we don’t wish to engage in innuendo, and we stick with where there are convictions or lawsuits that are won. But as we say in the film, we only show the tip of the iceberg.”
When seeking to get a response from Hollywood studios about what the film uncovered, Hoffman and his team were met with hostility.
“There’s been a very strong backlash,” Hoffman said. “The largest union in Hollywood threatened to sue us for merely identifying a member who admitted to this. The studios refused to work with us or distribute the film.”
While focusing on the molestation of kids in the entertainment industry, Hoffman said the film also examines child sexual abuse in general and gives warnings to parents about how their kids could be vulnerable.
“When a child spends a lot more time away from home (where they’re safe), and that could be competitive sports and travel teams – we’ve seen that recently with AAU girls volleyball and a host of others just this year – a child is vulnerable,” he said. “You have an adult who is in a position of power, and again it could be a coach. It could be a teacher. In this case, it’s in the acting world.”
“So an adult in a position of power over a child, a lot of time away from home, that’s a vulnerability that parents should pay attention to,” he said.
Hoffman said it often takes years for kids to come forward and report the abuse, but he said it is vital for multiple reasons. First, he said the victims are often able to recover and cope better by revealing what happened. Second, he said going public with such assaults could encourage others to come forward if they’ve been victims of the same perpetrator.