Hollywood's most damaging scandal: Decades-long rumours of child sex and a culture of silence

By Emma Reynolds

Tinseltown's seedy secrets have come under the spotlight once more after Elijah Wood's comments on paedophilic "vipers" in the industry.

The Lord of The Rings actor implied that the glamorous movie world is stuffed with high-profile figures who prey on children behind closed doors.

While the former child star has now insisted his words were taken out of context, it's the latest in a series of stifled claims and accusations that suggest dark goings-on among the bright lights of Hollywood.

An open secret

When Wood swiftly backtracked on his comments this week, he explained that his observations were based largely on a "powerful documentary" he had just watched - Amy J. Berg's 2014 film An Open Secret.

"Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood," he told The Sunday Times. "It was all organised. There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind.

"There is darkness in the underbelly. If you can imagine it, it's probably happened."

But he quickly clarified to The Hollywood Reporter: "Let me be clear: This subject of child abuse is an important one that should be discussed and properly investigated. But as I made absolutely clear to the writer, I have no first-hand experience or observation of the topic, so I cannot speak with any authority beyond articles I have read and films I have seen."

Berg's movie was a flop when it was released, and it is difficult to find a copy online even now.

The documentary alleges links between X-Men director Bryan Singer and a Hollywood paedophile ring and alleges that a former major child star was sexually abused by X-Men actor Brian Peck, but was too scared to speak out for fear of ruining his career. Peck vehemently denies the allegations.

There is no suggestion that Singer was involved in the abuse of the unnamed actor.

Child stars

Berg's controversial documentary recounted accusations of abuse by five former child actors, who alleged there was a shadowy network of predatory Hollywood agents and managers, including Bob Villard, who represented Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey McGuire when they were children.

The documentary focuses on a web TV company called Digital Entertainment Network. Owners Marc Collins-Rector, Chad Shackley and Brock Pierce allegedly threw drug-fuelled parties where young boys were encouraged to get naked in the hot tub and swimming pool.

As a child, Michael Egan was on the road to stardom. He appeared in a show called The Royal Standard, directed by Randall Kleiser, who made Grease and The Blue Lagoon and screentested for The Patriot and Freaks and Geeks.

Then he brought a lawsuit against Hollywood power-players Singer, TV executive Garth Ancier, Broadway producer Gary Goddard and ex-Disney honcho David Neuman, claiming he was sexually abused and raped at parties.

All of them denied the charges, and Egan then dropped them entirely and was widely discredited.

But Berg refused to cut him from her documentary. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker has previously worked on a project about alleged child abuse cover-ups in the Catholic Church.

Singer's lawyer Martin Singer (of no relation to the director) told MailOnline in 2014: "My client and his representatives have not seen the movie.

"It's disappointing and sad that Amy Berg would rely on the word of Michael Egan, a proven liar, who recently was admonished by a federal judge for lying in court.

"Egan continues to lie about our client. He has no credibility at all and can hardly be considered a reliable source for Berg's so-called documentary."

Woody Allen and Roman Polanski

The two legendary directors are the most high-profile Hollywood figures to be accused of paedophilia.

Roman Polanski, a Polish filmmaker born in Paris, made some of the most famous movies in history - including Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist.

Roman Polanski. Photo / Getty Images
Roman Polanski. Photo / Getty Images

In 1977, he was charged with five offences against a 13-year-old girl, including raping, drugging and sodomising her. He struck a plea bargain and was convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

Fearing a jail sentence, Polanski fled the US and remains in exile in Europe, where he continues to make films and has received an Oscar while being the subject of an Interpol "red notice" for absconding.

Woody Allen's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, has accused him of sexually abusing her as a child - a claim she has never taken to court and that the Manhattan director has repeatedly denied.

Woody Allen. Photo / Getty Images
Woody Allen. Photo / Getty Images

In an open letter published in the New York Times in 2014 after the director received a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes, Dylan - the child of Allen's ex-girlfriend, Mia Farrow - alleged the now 79-year-old sexually assaulted her in their attic when she was seven years old.

Allen, who has produced decades of critically acclaimed movies from Annie Hall to Blue Jasmine, left her mother, Mia Farrow, for her adopted daughter with composer Andre Previn, Soon-Yi, then 19. This has led some to doubt the substance of her allegations.

Dylan said she felt silenced by the Hollywood juggernaut, calling out Allen's powerful Hollywood friends, Cate Blanchett, Louis CK, Alec Baldwin, Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson and Diane Keaton for their lack of interest in her allegations.

"It would be mostly kids and a handful of adult men"

Corey Feldman, star of iconic '80s films Goonies, Stand By Me and The Lost Boys, has also spoken out about a reported culture of paedophilia in Hollywood.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Feldman backed Wood's claims, talking about his late best friend Corey Haim's rape by a producer at age 11, and the children's parties where alleged predators groomed kids aged anywhere from 10 to 16.

"With me, there were some molestations and it did come from several hands, so to speak, but with Corey [Haim], his was direct rape, whereas mine was not actual rape," Feldman told the magazine. "I believe that Haim's rapist was probably connected to something bigger and that is probably how he has remained protected for all these years.

Child stars Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. Photo / Getty Images
Child stars Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. Photo / Getty Images

"This person uses intimidation and threats as a way to keep people quiet. And all these men were all friends. Ask anybody in our group of kids at that time: They were passing us back and forth to each other. [Alison Arngrim] from Little House on the Prairie said [in an interview], 'Everybody knew that the two Coreys were just being passed around'.

"They would throw these parties where you'd walk in and it would be mostly kids and there would be a handful of adult men. They would also be at the film awards and children's charity functions."

He claimed one of the men was his father's employee and often acted as his guardian, adding, "He's still prominently in the business today."

"I'm not able to name names. People are frustrated, people are angry, they want to know how is this happening and they want answers ... I would love to name names. I'd love to be the first to do it. But unfortunately California conveniently enough has a statute of limitations that prevents that from happening. Because if I were to go and mention anybody's name I would be the one that would be in legal problems and I'm the one that would be sued,

"If somebody came forward with a suit against one of these people [who molested me], I would certainly be more than happy to back them up. But that hasn't happened."

- news.com.au

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 29 Oct 2016 06:12:29 Processing Time: 592ms