A 71-year-old Academy Award-winning songwriter who the authorities said used his Oscar to dazzle aspiring actresses was arrested Tuesday on charges of raping or sexually assaulting 11 women lured to his East Side apartment from 2005 to 2008. His female assistant was charged with helping him.
The songwriter, Joseph Brooks, whose hit “You Light Up My Life” won the Oscar for best song of 1977, recruited the women, ranging in age from 18 to 30, many of them from the Pacific Northwest, with advertisements on Craigslist and a talent Web site offering movie roles, then “incapacitating them” with wine and “intimidating them” into silence, Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, said.
If these ads were for a non-existent role then that proves that Brooks wasn't mixing business with romance and was instead setting a deliberate trap. This undermines any possible claim by Brooks or his legal representatives that these alleged rapes were instead consensual sexual encounters.
That these ads brought women to New York and far from their homes is another sign of criminal premeditation since reporting in a different city and state is even more intimidating than reporting locally. From what I've read, none of the alleged victims in this current case are from New York which again reinforces that the goal was rape by intoxication.
I disagree with the use of the word dazzle in the quote above since the Oscar was likely used to give the alleged false story credibility.
There are many situations where credibility causes us to make choices which leave us vulnerable to those who decide to be predators. When we open the phone book or go online to get a broken air conditioner fixed and we verify that we are in contact with a reputable contractor, we let the worker from that company into our homes. They haven't dazzled us.
But certain positions provide opportunities those people wouldn't have otherwise. If a plumber tried to give me a drink, I'd instantly know something was off. But when I go to a restaurant I not only don't get upset when I'm given a drink I haven't seen prepared I thank that person.
We repeatedly trust people and the problem isn't that we're dazzled or too trusting, the problem is that some people exploit our reasonable assumptions and are untrustworthy.
If there was no acting role then charging Brooks' assistant for setting up a bogus ad and for reassuring those who expressed concern about the details of these meetings is absolutely correct. It doesn't matter if she thought of what she was doing as setting women up to be raped. When you lure someone thousands of miles on false pretenses and with false assurances of safety, you have deliberately crossed the line into criminal activity.
If it isn't already, placing a fraudulent ad to lure someone to another location should be a crime and when mixed with other crimes should be treated as an aggravating factor.
I'm sure some people will believe the allegations are true but will refuse to label what Brooks did as rape. Instead they will call it seduction or one man being a jerk. They might look at how Brooks and his assistant worked and decide that any young woman who didn't want sex could have gotten away if she really wanted to. This premise is faulty since it is based on the assumption that everyone who answered the ad would know upon entering the apartment that the audition was bogus.
Not all of those who will deny rape in this situation will be anti-feminists or MRAs. Some feminists are so locked into the idea of female empowerment that they view certain rapes as the victim's failure to assert herself.
This view requires making premeditation and deception on the part of Brooks and his assistant irrelevant.
I cringe every time I hear someone tell women that they are only victims if they choose to be victims. This is a false statement. Often what is meant is that women may not realize how much power they have and how many options they have to get away from abusive situations. But sometimes people truly believe that when violence doesn't come from a sudden and unknown source that the victim who doesn't evade that violence has consented to it.
These people don't know what they are talking about and contribute to creating an environment where victims of people like Brooks are afraid to report their rapes to the police.