For an aspiring actress, having an Oscar-winning composer and director fly you to New York City for a potential movie role would seem like a dream come true. You would think that you were well on your way to becoming the next big star, but instead in a cruel twist of fate you become the victim of a heinous crime.
For 11 women this was the case when they fell for the trap set up by Joseph Brooks, the Oscar-winning composer and director of “You Light Up My Life.”
After placing an ad on Craigslist asking for attractive young women for a starring role in a new movie, 10 of the 11 actresses were paid to fly to New York for their audition with Brooks. Once at Brooks’ apartment, however, the women were given wine and then forcibly raped and threatened until they had sex with him.
On Tuesday, Brooks’ was charged with 91 counts of rape, criminal sexual act, sexual abuse, and assault among other charges. If convicted of first-degree rape, the 71-year-old could spend the rest of his life in jail with a sentence of up to 25 years.
Brooks’ personal assistant, Shawni Lucier, is also being investigated for her involvement in the crime. It is suspected that she would help pick the women, interview them, arrange their travel, and leave them alone with Brooks in his apartment knowing his intentions.
After searching Brooks’ and Lucier’s computers and cold-calling women whose names she saw, Assistant District Attorney Maxine Rosenthal, the lead prosecutor on the case, says there could be another seven or eight victims.
Brooks has denied all accusations and Lucier is expected to surrender to authorities in New York next week.
This is a depressing and disgusting story. Imagine thinking you’re on top of the world only to have everything come crashing down around you. I can only hope that there is enough evidence to convict Brooks and his assistant so these women find some justice.
Let this story be a lesson to us all about the predators of Craigslist and other internet sites. You can never be too careful.
Photo by John Marshall Mantel, The New York Times (http://www.oregonlive.com/movies/index.ssf/2009/06/oscar_winner_joseph_brooks_acc.html)