LA prosecutor sets up special Hollywood sex assault task force after Weinstein, Spacey, Louis C.K. complaints
Announcement comes after scores of powerful men in Hollywood; including Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. and Steven Seagal have been accused of sexual harassment, assault or rape
The Los Angeles County district lawyer has announced the establishment of a task force to investigate allegations of sexual assault in the entertainment industry.
It is a sign of the scope of the problem, which has been spotlighted by the flood of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men in Hollywood that have emerged in recent weeks.
“In response to the widespread allegations of sexual abuse in the entertainment industry, I have established a task force of specially trained deputy district lawyers who are ready to evaluate these cases,” Jackie Lacey said.
“I have assigned the group of veteran sex crimes prosecutors to work together to ensure a uniformed approach to the legal review and possible prosecution of any case that meets both the legal and factual standards for criminal prosecution,” Lacey said.
The New York Times and The New Yorker published articles on allegations that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had a decades-long history of sexual harassment and rape, prompting scores more women to speak out about his behaviour and that of others in the entertainment industry.
Allegations have since emerged against House of Cards star Kevin Spacey, director James Toback, comedian Louis C.K. and US action movie actor Steven Seagal.
Portia de Rossi, the Arrested Development actress and wife of chat queen Ellen DeGeneres, accused the former martial arts expert and blues musician over an undated audition for a Seagal movie in his office.
“He told me how important it was to have chemistry off-screen as he sat me down and unzipped his leather pants,” the Australian-born actress tweeted late Wednesday.
“I ran out and called my agent. Unfazed, she replied, ‘well, I didn’t know if he was your type.’”
DeGeneres retweeted the post to her more than 75 million followers saying: “I’m proud of my wife”.
Seagal’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Actress Jenny McCarthy, who first accused Seagal in 1998, on Thursday revisited her encounter with the actor when auditioning for his 1995 movie Under Siege 2 when he allegedly asked her twice to lower her dress.
Telling him she had been told there was no nudity, Seagal allegedly told her “there is off-camera nudity.” After she refused and ran to her car, McCarthy said he followed her outside and told her not to tell anyone “or else”.
In a New York Times expose published on Thursday, five women accused comedian Louis C.K. of masturbating or asking to masturbate in front of them or on the telephone in separate incidents dating from the late 1990s to 2005.
On Thursday, the premiere of his new movie I Love You, Daddy, was abruptly cancelled, and the award-winner cancelled an appearance on CBS comedy chat show The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, The Times reported.
C.K.’s publicist, Lewis Kay, said that the comedian would not respond.
“Louis is not going to answer any questions,” he said.
The comedian’s accusers told the paper that his behaviour was abusive.
“I think the line gets crossed when you take all your clothes off and start masturbating,” said Julia Wolov, one half of the Chicago comedy duo who both accused him of misappropriate behaviour in his hotel room after their late-night show.