California Law Meant to Keep Pedophiles From Child Actors is Ignored, Unenforced
A California law meant to keep pedophiles from child actors has been ignored and unenforced, according to a new Deadline report.
AB 1660 was signed into law five years ago. It requires publicists, managers, acting coaches and headshot photographers who work with child actors to be fingerprinted and pass an FBI background check. They will then be issued a Child Performer Services Permit.
The purpose of AB 1660 was to ensure that registered sex offenders were not working under aliases with child actors.
Deadline investigated and found that “not a single Hollywood publicist who represents child actors has obtained a permit. Dozens of managers, acting coaches and photographers who work with child stars have also failed to comply with the law, which is punishable by a year in county jail and a $10,000 fine. And yet, no one has ever been charged with breaking it.”
The law was designed to keep pedophiles like Robert Villard from re-entering the industry after he was convicted of a sex crime. Villard was a publicist, manager, acting coach and photographer of child actors, reported Deadline. He was arrested in 1987 for possessing child pornography. In 2001, he was again arrested for possessing photographs of child porn.
But Villard skirted the law by working under assumed names, like Bob Moniker. He worked again with child actors until 2005 when he was arrested for committing a lewd act on a child. He went to prison for seven years.
In 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1660 into law.
Anne Henry, founder of BizParentz sponsored the bill. She said that AB 1660 was intended to keep people like Villard away from child actors. “Before this, there was nothing to stop him from returning to the industry and starting the abuse cycle all over again,” she said in an interview with Deadline. “We wanted something to prevent that from happening.”
It’s Not Really Working
It hasn’t worked very well. Most industry professionals have not registered as required. “The whole point of having this in the first place was to ensure that industry people who work regularly with children would be subjected to background checks,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s COO and general counsel. He said that his organization will reach out to those who should be registered to remind them of their obligation to do so.
Some think it’s because industry professionals don’t know about the law. One manager said a lack of awareness about the law is why many do not have permits. “I don’t know if people are aware of it,” said James Symington. “I think it’s about educating managers about what is required.”
Deadline’s interviews found that many publicists don’t know about the law, either. “We work with a lot of agents and managers who work with kids, and I’ve never heard of this, and I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” said one publicist in L.A. She said the people she works with don’t know about it, either.
One manager told Deadline that she got a permit as soon as the law went into effect. She said it was a big deal to her. When she was asked why so many managers haven’t gotten the permits, she said, “One, people are lazy; and two, nobody assumed anybody would follow through, and nobody has. They figure that if there are no consequences, what does it matter?”