Sexual assaults are not a new phenomenon, but as of late, many victims have come forward to name the accusers. Many of us have heard of the infamous phrase, “the casting couch,” which was commonly a way to describe Hollywood brass who made attempts to assault a performer by promising a juicy role in an upcoming movie.
This is a well-known fact and often involved directors and producers who arrogantly, and shamelessly, made sexual advances towards prospective young actors and actresses. These advances took place since the beginning of Hollywood’s and Broadway’s history. Many gave in to these advances in the hopes for a start to stardom, while others gave in to avoid confrontation, which was taboo in the early years.
Sexual assaults were initiated with straight and LGBTQ performers. In later years, this was the talk of the town, and then silence. Lately, people have come forward and have found the courage to accuse the perpetrators in a very public and determined manner in order to bring them to the courts of public opinion, as well as the courts of law.
Famed comedian Bill Cosby was charged with assault on a number of female victims. His previous court appearance found insufficient evidence, but a new trial has been announced.
Harvey Weinstein, a film producer, has countless charges against him involving many women. In his arrogant reply, Weinstein announced his innocence, while challenging his accusers to produce evidence.
Academy award winner Kevin Spacey, a well-known and accomplished actor, has been accused of sexual assaults against a number of males that supposedly took place throughout the years. He vehemently denies the accusations, and is being accused by the entire LGBTQ community for hiding behind the rainbow society while seducing a 14-year-old, because he decided to come out as being gay.
As of Oct. 29, 15 accusers had come forward accusing him of sexual misconduct and attempted rape. Among the victims was the son of actor Richard Dreyfus when he was just 18. Now the elder Dreyfus is also under the microscope for sexual misconduct.
The sexual assaults on youngsters are alarming, and will no doubt increase as time progresses. This is not to say that all accusations will be proven, or all are guilty, but this will certainly bring to light the severity of these charges. We have not seen the end of this type of conduct and charges should be laid against perpetrators in our courts.
Sexual assaults committed by women are also coming to light. Men usually are quiet about any unwanted sexual advances as this affects their so-called masculine status. Charges are being laid against female sex offenders at an increasing rate. Whatever the gender, the abuse is the same, and for anyone guilty of these horrid offences, proper action must be taken. A slap on the wrist is not a deterrent, but stiffer sentences may have more positive consequences.
Education and raising awareness with the determination to see an end to sexual assaults will produce better results. The abusers must be stopped to rid us of such attacks on young innocent persons, and adults as well. We must protect the vulnerable in our schools, the workplace, the entertainment industry, the religious institutions, in our homes, and other venues. Give them a chance to have a fulfilled life without interference from abusers.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.