Sunday, November 20, 2011

J.J. Abrams triumphed where Joe Paterno failed

J.J. Abrams on the set of "Star Trek."
Never thought you'd see those two names in the same headline, did you?

After all, what could Hollywood writer and director J.J. Abrams possibly have in common with Joe Paterno, the legendary college football coach who recently was fired amid the furor over the child sex-abuse scandal at Penn State. The case is complicated, in case you've been somehow ignoring it, but Paterno lost his job because some people believe he failed to act properly when he learned a longtime former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, allegedly was caught molesting a young boy.

That's a very simplified and toned-down version of the story. If you want to make yourself sick, you can read the grand jury report by clicking here.

Back to Abrams.

This past week, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times by Dawn Chmielewski and Harriet Ryan, Abrams was instrumental in Los Angeles Police launching an investigation into a convicted child molester who had changed his name and was casting actors, including young children, for movies.

Jason James Murphy served five years for kidnapping and molesting an 8-year-old Seattle-area boy. When he was released from prison, he relocated to California went into the casting business under the names Jason James. He worked for Abrams as a casting freelancer on the movie "Super 8."

Reported the Times:
A spokesman for the state attorney general said the statute requires offenders to tell law enforcement about any aliases so that they can be added to the public database. "Any name that a person uses needs to be the name that they are registered under, otherwise they are in violation," spokesman Nicholas Pacilio said.
Murphy, who was once called "a sick young man" by a judge, is not being investigated for any incidents involving the child actors.

Abrams told the newspaper:
"It's shocking and it's devastating, not just as a filmmaker but as a father and someone who is entrusted to make sure that everyone I work with, especially children, are safe. To think that someone like this was among us is unthinkable."
Abrams - whose other credits include the movies "Cloverfield" and "Star Trek," as well as the TV series "Lost" and "Fringe" - turned over information about Murphy to the studio as soon as he learned about it. The studio alerted authorities.

As the Times subsequently pointed out in an editorial:

If Paterno, who reportedly told university higher-ups about the alleged molestations in 2002 but then ignored their failure to act for nearly a decade, had been equally conscientious, his reputation and job would remain intact.

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