Thanks to the media, even a mere accusation of sexual abuse committed by a priest long ago will irreparably shatter the livelihood of the priest. No matter how flimsy or how long ago the accusation, a priest is always presumed guilty in the media, and his reputation is destroyed as the accusation is splashed across the front pages and the media floods the story with coverage.
But when it comes to Hollywood stars convicted or accused of abusing children, the convictions or accusations are largely ignored by the media and then quickly forgotten and can sometimes even be a boon for their careers. Consider these Hollywood celebrities and the price they paid for abusing children:
The funny woman of NPRPaula Poundstone has been entertaining audiences on Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me, the popular weekly quiz show on National Public Radio (NPR), for several years. A popular figure on the stand-up comedy circuit for over three decades, she performs in the neighborhood of 200 stand-up comedy shows per year around the nation.
What audiences may not know is that on June 27, 2001, Poundstone was arrested and charged with three counts of committing a lewd and lascivious act on a girl under the age of 14 and one count of child endangerment.
To avoid jail time, Poundstone pleaded no contest to one count of felony child abuse and a misdemeanor count of "inflicting injury upon a child." (The New York Times cited a Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney who said the misdemeanor charge involved "inappropriate touching.")
The court records were sealed, but naturally there was no outcry by the media over the secret proceedings or demand that the records be made public.
Puff the Magic Pardon?In March 1970, Peter Yarrow, one third of the popular American folk trio Peter, Paul, and Mary, pleaded guilty to "taking indecent liberties" with a 14-year-old girl the previous summer before a concert. (The New York Times referred to it then as a "morals offense.")
However, Yarrow only served three months in prison for the molestation. And in the waning days of his administration in 1981, President Carter magnanimously pardoned Yarrow. (That's right. A president pardoned a convicted child molester.)
Yarrow's career continued unabated by his pesky conviction on child molestation charges. (Yarrow even performed publicly between his arrest and his sentencing!) Peter, Paul, and Mary continued to enjoy several years of touring to adoring fans, and Yarrow even pursued solo projects including one ironically of a children's book.
Woody's case in focusFor many years, dating back to 1993, there has been an ever-increasing mountain of very compelling evidence that Woody Allen sexually molested his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow.
The precise truth may never be known, but none of the compelling evidence in the case has hindered Allen from continuing to be one of the most heralded directors in Hollywood. Tinseltown continues to shower Allen with awards year after year, and actors fall over each other in hopes to star in one of his films.
Interestingly, one of Allen's most successful films is Manhattan, whose plot revolves around a divorced writer who dates a 17-year-old teenager. And right on cue, Hollywood showered the ironic film with numerous awards.
Granting coveted awards in Hollywood to accused child molesters in nothing new. In a previous post, we noted that Kevin Clash, the actor behind the popular Sesame Street character Elmo, won three Emmy awards even though at the time he had been accused by four different individuals of abusing them.
Then there are the well-known cases of Michael Jackson and Roman Polanski, whose careers were wildly successful following child sex abuse charges against them.
Meanwhile, it has been nearly three years since popular 1980s actor Corey Feldman boldly declared:
"I can tell you that the No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia. That's the biggest problem for children in this industry … It's the big secret."
Yet the mainstream media continues to remain deafeningly silent about sex abuse in Hollywood today, busy as they are with issues of abuse in the Catholic Church many decades ago in the 1960s and 1970s.