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Hollywood Launches Two New Programs Aimed at Helping Sexual Assault Survivors in Entertainment Industry

Both the LAPD and Women in Film, Los Angeles have announced plans for new programs aimed at catching abusers and aiding survivors.

Cathy Schulman, president, Women in Film, arrives at the 24th annual ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards at the Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills, in Los Angeles24th Annual ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards, Los Angeles, USA - 16 Oct 2017

Cathy Schulman, president of Women in Film

Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Call it “The Weinstein Effect,” but it seems Hollywood and the entertainment industry are not just waking up to the fact that sexual assault and harassment are a very real problem, but that it’s high time to enact measures to both help survivors and out abusers. In the wake of a seemingly unending series of allegations made against such Hollywood heavyweights as Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Jeremy Piven, Dustin Hoffman, James Toback, Steven Seagal, and Jefferey Tambor, two key organizations of now announced new programs to specifically designed to aid survivors.

As Deadline reports, the LAPD is launching their own task force to investigate such possible crimes. Per the outlet, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey “has established a special task to force to look into allegations of sexual assault in the entertainment industry. Despite the growing number of allegations, however, no crimes have been referred for prosecution to the DA’s office by local law enforcement agencies.”

In an official statement made yesterday, Lacey said: “In response to the widespread allegations of sexual abuse in the entertainment industry, I have established a task force of specially trained deputy district attorneys who are ready to evaluate these cases if any are referred to my office for criminal prosecution. 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.”

She added, “To date, we have not received any cases from law enforcement for possible criminal filing. We are in communication with the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments.”

Elsewhere, Women in Film, Los Angeles (WIF) has announced their plans to launch both a help line and legal aid for survivors of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. In an official statement from the organization, it notes, “Having been at the center of discrimination advocacy on behalf of women for decades and more recently having financed and guided research and a multi-year awareness campaign to expose gender disparity throughout the screen industries, Women In Film, Los Angeles has stepped up to the challenge of providing a safe haven for victims of sexual harassment across all disciplines of entertainment, including film, television and music.”

Both the Sexual Harassment Help Line and Pro-Bono legal aid panel “will be integrated programs to refer men and women in need of assistance to other survivors, designated mental health counselors, law enforcement professionals and civil and criminal lawyers and litigators. The Help Line will also serve as a crisis center and centralized information source.”

Kirsten Schaffer, Executive director of Women In Film said in an official statement, “Our phones have been ringing off the hook since these harassment stories began to break. We are hearing that victims feel isolated, that there is nowhere safe to go to tell their stories, that they believe they must keep their experiences silent or they will be sued or black-balled and that they feel helpless, fearing the legal costs of trying to do anything about what has happened to them.”

WIF president Cathy Schulman added, “I’m sad that we are in a place where the formation of a crisis and relief center for victims of sexual harassment and sex crimes is necessary, but I have no doubt that Women In Film’s deep familiarity with the business and behavior of our community, position as an independent and not-for-profit entity not aligned with any particular studio, agency, or company, institutional knowledge of discrimination and the social science surrounding change models, as well as our deep devotion to our members and friends, will enable the Help Line and legal aid panel to move the national conversation about workplace harassment in a positive and curative direction.”

The Help Line is expected to be up and running by December 1, 2017 with phone lines available 365 days a year. Per WIF, it “will be staffed by trained experts to address these concerns, and all information will be kept strictly confidential.”

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