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Hollywood hit with child sex scandals

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Just as charges of child abuse have upended the college- sports world in the past month, they’re now shaking Hollywood. On Nov. 29, Martin Weiss, 47, a self-employed talent agent, was arrested and charged with eight counts of child molestation. Weiss had worked with child actors for 14 years — helping them secure roles on shows such as Nickelodeon’s iCarly and Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie — when a former client claimed Weiss sexually abused him multiple times over a three-year period. (Weiss has pleaded not guilty.) This came only weeks after news that convicted child molester and registered sex offender Jason James Murphy managed to work as a casting assistant for films with child actors like Super 8, The School of Rock, and Bad News Bears by reportedly going by the name Jason James to avoid detection by authorities. (Neither Weiss’ attorney nor Murphy responded to EW’s request for comment.) ”This news has really rocked the community of former kid stars,” says Paul Petersen, a onetime child actor who started the advocacy group A Minor Consideration, which petitions for stricter oversight of minors in the industry. Currently California labor laws ensure certain protections for young actors — including the stipulation that a parent or guardian be within eye- or earshot at all times during the audition process for those under 16 — but many of those rules do not apply outside the state and are difficult to enforce. Says Petersen: ”I think a lot more victims are going to come forward who have been empowered by the attention these cases have gotten.”

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