Young male actors face a “rampant” and “pervasive” problem of men sexually abusing boys in Hollywood, actors and lawyers have said.
More actors are speaking up about misconduct and harassment in the wake of allegations against actor Kevin Spacey.
Actor and director Alex Winter told The Guardian he was sexually abused as a pre-teen child actor.
“It’s a very taboo subject,” he said. “I don’t know of any boys in any pocket of the entertainment industry that do not encounter some form of predatory behaviour.
“It’s really not a safe environment.”
Spacey, 58, has been accused of making an unwanted sexual advance toward Star Trek actor Anthony Rapp in 1986.
Rapp told Buzzfeed the alleged incident took place when he was 14 years old and Spacey was 26. He said the House of Cards actor lay on top of him and tried to “seduce” him.
In response to the allegations the former artistic director of London’s Old Vic theatre apologised and said he did not remember the encounter. He said if he did what Rapp described it “would have been deeply inappropriate drunk behaviour”.
Spacey’s decision to also come out as gay as part of his apology has been widely criticised, including by many prominent Hollywood figures, for implying causation with being closeted and behaving inappropriately with a minor.
“This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life.” Spacey’s statement reads. “I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behaviour.”
The editor of Gay Times, Josh Rivers, said the statement was "highly problematic".
He told the Press Association: “It would make more sense for him to come out as an alcoholic than to conflate his sexuality with his alleged behaviour. Kevin Spacey choosing this moment to declare his sexuality, as if it has anything to do with his alleged behaviour, is highly problematic.”
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Rapp’s allegation about Spacey has led to wider criticism of how young gay actors can be vulnerable to mistreatment in the entertainment industry.
“It’s a pervasive problem in Hollywood,” said Toni Jaramilla, a lawyer in Los Angeles, who has previously represented men in sexual harassment cases.
She told The Guardian the pressure to find work can be used to coerce men into sex or assault, often leaving them afraid to speak out.
“The common challenge is the fear of not being believed and the fear of having the situation turned around against them, to suggest that they are instigating it, or they are finding opportunities to sleep their way into a role,” she said.
Rapp’s allegations follow a cascade of harassment and rape allegations made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who denies all claims of non-consensual sexual activity.
Gloria Allred, an attorney who has taken on Donald Trump and Bill Cosby, said in an interview on Monday night that she had fielded numerous calls from potential clients following the Spacey allegations.
Sexual harassment of gay men in the industry is “rampant”, she said, adding, “It’s as serious a problem as it is with women.”
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