FoxNews.com Celebrity child molesters: Is their fame a factor?
By Leora Arnowitz, Sasha Bogursky Published August 28, 2014 FoxNews.com
“Sons of Guns” star Will Hayden was arrested on Wednesday on charges of aggravated rape for allegedly sexually abusing a minor “almost daily.”
Former “Cake Boss” cast member Remy Gonzales is currently serving 9 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.
Lostprophets rocker Ian Watkins was recently sentenced to 35 years in prison after he was found guilty of multiple child sex abuse charges, including trying to rape a baby.
Of course only a tiny fraction of those committing this kind of heinous crimes are famous, but experts say fame can be a factor with celebrities who prey on children.
“Of course every situation is unique, but today when we look at the stars… we hear it all the time, that they begin to abuse their positions,” said Dr. Wendy James, who focuses on the early diagnosis and treatment of psychological issues. “As a society we tend to glorify stars…and society sees them as doing no wrong and a lot of time I see the frequency of narcissistic behavior in stars.”
She said that can lead to stars acting out in sexually inappropriate ways, with child molestation being an extreme situation.
“We allow stars to start to feel like they are above the law or above certain behavior,” she added.
Dr. Fred Berlin, the director of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Behavior Consultation Unit, said there is no definitive statistic that shows pedophiles are more prevalent among Hollywood’s elite.
“I don’t know of any evidence that it’s more common among celebrity than others,” he told FOX411. “I think we pay more attention to it and are sort of more surprised in many ways because we think [we know these people based on what we see on TV].”
So does their a celebrity’s status simply bring their awful behavior into the limelight?
“They are scrutinized if something is found out,” said James, while Berlin noted that celebrity abuse cases get much more attention than the average sex crime.
“Most of these cases get a certain amount of attention, and the public is rightfully concerned and when people are arrested in their local community,” he said. “It becomes a bigger, national story when someone is arrested who is a celebrity.”
And the stars mentioned above are not the first to be accused of sexual misconduct against children. Here are five more celebrities slammed with sex abuse allegations:
- Peter Yarrow of the musical group Peter, Paul and Mary was convicted of taking “improper liberties” with a 14-year-old girl in 1970. Yarrow, who served 3 months in jail was later granted a presidential pardon in 1981 from former President Jimmy Carter.
- A mother who appeared on TLC’s “Cheer Perfection pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree sexual assault and engaging a child in sexually explicit conduct. Andrew Clevenger received a two 10-year prison sentence and two 10-year suspended sentences for her sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy.
- Comedienne Paula Poundstone was charged with three counts of committing a lewd and lascivious act on a girl under the age of 14 in 2001. She was found guilty of a felony child endangerment charge for driving while intoxicated with children in the car. She pleaded no contest to avoid jail time as part of a plea that placed her on probation for 5 years.
- Once a judge on “America’s Best Dance Crew” and a choreographer on “So You Think You Can Dance,” Shane Sparks was charged with six counts of a lewd act on a child and two counts of oral copulation of a person under 16. His attorney called the claims “extortion” and claimed Sparks’ accuser of only coming forward due to Sparks’ fame. He pleaded not guilty in 2010 and again in 2011 on a single felony count of having unlawful sex with a minor. He eventually accepted a plea deal which sentenced him to 270 days in the country jail, five years of provation and 52 sessions of sex-offender counseling.
- MTV’s “Jackass” spin-off “Viva La Bam” star Vincent “Don Vito” Margera was found guilty on two counts of sexual assault on a child in 2007. Margera had been accused inappropriately touching one 14-year-old and two 12-year-olds at an autograph signing at a Colorado mall in August 2006.