The sexual assault accusations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and now actor Kevin Spacey have Hollywood bracing for a “flood” of abused actors to come forward in the coming days and name the predators who targeted them, a scandal that one activist says will reach epic proportions.
“This is big. I consider this is going to be worse for Hollywood than the church scandal was for the Vatican,” said Matt Valentinas, one of the executive producers behind the 2015 documentary, “An Open Secret,” which pulled back the curtain on the sexual abuse of children in Hollywood and named many producers, agents and other figures who work with kids in show business.
The effort to unmask the predators gained even more steam on Sunday, when actor Anthony Rapp accused Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey of sexually assaulting him three decades ago, when Spacey was 26 years old and Rapp was just 14.
Spacey says he does not remember the alleged incident but suggested in a statement that alcohol would have been a factor if something did happen. Spacey also used the statement to confirm that he is homosexual.
Valentinas says for those in the know, the allegations against Spacey did not come as a shock. He says Spacey’s name came up in the research for “An Open Secret.”
“Yes, it did, in the sense that he’s very close friends with Bryan Singer. Bryan Singer is the director of “X-Men” and is currently shooting the movie on (the rock band) Queen. That’s how we came upon some of these rumors about Kevin Spacey. It wasn’t really the focus of our investigation, but his name was definitely brought up all the time for sure,” said Valentinas.
In addition to directing “X-Men” and it’s five sequels, Singer also directed “The Usual Suspects,” “Valkyrie,” “Star Trek: Nemesis,” and “Superman Returns,” among many other films. In recent days, Singer has been accused of sexual abuse.
In a series of Twitter posts on November 1, actor Justin Smith accused Singer of repeatedly inviting Smith to expose himself and inviting him to parties with his “posse” with an obvious purpose.
“This was always him, 2-3 older 50-70 year old men who were obviously on drugs but still wearing their dress shirts & pants (he introduced them as producers) and at least 5 to sometimes 10 young men. I should really say boys, none of them could’ve been older than 16 or 17,” tweeted Smith.
“They were all aspiring models/actors who were always doped up & partially naked. Bryan always made a point to tell me they were going to his place for a ‘private party’ & asked me to come with them. I said no every time,” added Smith.
Smith says Singer eventually thrust his hands down Smith’s pants and violated him. In 2014, two other actors accused Singer of similar predatory behavior when they were child actors. Even on set, underage extras say Singer forced them to strip naked and remain that way for hours while shooting the 1998 film “Apt Pupil.”
Valentinas believes Rapp and Smith will only be the beginning of an avalanche of current and former child actors coming forward to name their abusers.
“We’re already getting calls from many other survivors so I think we’re going to start seeing floods of survivors coming out in the next couple of weeks or even days with stories,” said Valentinas. “The truth cannot be kept back.”
High-profile Hollywood child talent agent Tyler Grasham is also under the microscope, accused of sodomy by former child actor Tyler Cornell.
“Just last week, one of the largest child actor agents in Hollywood, named Tyler Grasham at APA Agency, was fired for inappropriate behavior. He represents some of the biggest child actors out there today, who are currently starring in things like “It,” which was just the biggest horror movie possibly ever, and “Stranger Things,” which is now on NetFlix.
“Stranger Things” star Finn Wolfhard severed ties with APA upon learning of the Grasham news.
Grasham is not the only figure supposedly devoted to looking out for child actors to be involved in allegedly abusing their clients. “An Open Secret” features an interview with Michael Harrah, a former child actor who spent decades leading the Screen Actors Guild’s Young Performers Committee. That conversation took an unexpected twist.
“You had an accused pedophile running that operation. We did an interview with him in March 2014 at SAG headquarters,” said Valentinas. “This guy admits he was molested and was recalling how he might have tried to molest one of the survivors in our film. It’s a jaw-dropping interview.”
What was the response from the Screen Actors Guild?
“Instead of SAG saying, ‘Oh my God, that’s a problem. How can we help you,’ they sent us threatening letters to take out the interview from the movie, take out all mention of SAG from the movie. It might have been the first instance of a creative guild trying to go after a director and a producer and censor content. It was unprecedented,” said Valentinas.
In a Guardian story from October 31, actor and director Alex Winter, best known as Bill from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” said he was abused as a child actor and claimed it’s virtually unavoidable for boys in Hollywood.
“I don’t know of any boys in any pocket of the entertainment industry that do not encounter some form of predatory behavior,” said Winter. “It’s really not a safe environment.”
Valentinas says that is no exaggeration.
“There’s that many predators in Hollywood,” said Valentinas. “He’s speaking the truth.”
Worse yet, Valentinas says the abuse epidemic in Hollywood is not just a bunch of random, independent predators.
“It’s not just a lone pedophile. This is a highly organized group of people who all run in the same circles with a hierarchy, from people who scout for new talent to inviting kids to parties and grooming them there, to them picking who they want to be with.
“They entice these poor kids with a television role, or a role in a movie, or an invite to a premiere, or a writing job on one of their shows,” said Valentinas, who says the perpetrators are usually careful not to abuse the children on set or in public.
It’s away from the formal business of Hollywood that the attacks take place.
“A lot of Hollywood is very casual and non-corporate in the sense that a lot of the grooming and the groups that are in these pedophile operations, a lot of that stuff happens at private residences off the sets through unspoken words, through actions where you have to participate in these parties. Then once you’re in, you’re in,” said Valentinas.
And while most survivors featured in “An Open Secret” are boys, Valentinas says little girls are preyed upon just as much.
“I can’t give you an exact percentage number, but of course it happens quite often to women as well,” said Valentinas, who estimates half of Hollywood’s sexual abuse victims are female.
While predatory behavior towards kids in Hollywood is a major crisis, Valentinas is quick to point out that the aggressors make up a rather small percentage of people in the industry. The problem, he says, is that many of the villains in this real-life horror show wield a lot of power.
“I’m not saying that this is a large part of Hollywood, but the one or two percent of pedophiles that are out there are at a high level. If they get involved in a project, that effects so many other people that they might not want to choose to believe the rumors that they’re hearing,” said Valentinas.
He says a scandal involving one director or leading actor can create havoc on a project.
“One person’s bad behavior on a major film can affect the careers of hundreds if not thousands of people, tens of thousands of hours of time and tens of millions of dollars,” said Valentinas.
“That’s why they really need to start getting a handle on this, because no other business is run in the way that Hollywood is right now. I think they’re going to be bleeding money for a long time the more they act this way,” said Valentinas.
He says until the Weinstein scandal broke, few in Hollywood were interested in determining whether the rumors about alleged pedophiles were true.
“It might not be happening on the set, but somebody might be hearing about, ‘Oh, this guy might be having inappropriate relations with a minor,’ and then they say, ‘Oh that’s just gossip. Let’s not talk about it because you don’t want it to effect your film,” said Valentinas.
Valentinas says Hollywood studio executives are largely focused on creating successful movies and television shows and may not be deliberately looking to bury allegations against their employees, but he says the lack of interest in finding answers is deeply troubling.
“They’re not really interested in combating pedophilia in the industry. They’re focused on getting films out and being competitive and making money for the company. At the end of the day, it comes down to they don’t want to lose money.
“It’s not maybe that they’re intentionally covering this stuff up, but they’re definitely intentionally not looking into it. And that’s the problem,” said Valentinas.