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Oscar-Winning Composer Accused of Rape

Oscar-Winning Composer Accused of Rape

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.

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Photo by John Marshall Mantel, The New York Times (

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1:50PM PDT on Aug 17, 2009

* Howard Miller says
* Jul 2, 2009 2:35 PM

From the sparse details given, it seems as though there is strong evidence against this man (and his assistant). However, I am somewhat troubled regarding the fact that the story and the comments have all convicted him without trial. At what point do we start casting stones?

Come on , really, can here be any other answer here? with 91 women making the same claim against the same man?? You can hardly locate 91 women on short notice to make this case who would all say the same thing. This guy is guilty no other evidence would be needed. But I am sure there is plenty of other evidence there as well.

9:01PM PDT on Aug 7, 2009

I find it hard to believe he is innocent, too. The only thing making me question his guilt is his physical condition... although the stroke did occur AFTER the alleged events, plus it is possible his lawyer told him to fake his condition. At 71, though, he's not likely to last very long in that cell of his... especially if they put him in with the general population.

7:34PM PDT on Jul 21, 2009

I voted "leaning yes" because, given the amount of women who complained, I really can't imagine him being innocent.

5:28PM PDT on Jul 21, 2009

On the other hand, I wouldn't trust him with any of my lady friends. He definitely looks like a predator; if they shaved his head, and put a pair of fangs into his mouth, he could be the vampire in Nosferatu.

6:23PM PDT on Jul 20, 2009

Personally, I don't know what to believe. I can't imagine a guy Brooks' age being able to overpower so many young, healthy women... at least not without drugging their wine. Was he using some kind of tranquilizer on his victims? If they can uncover that in the courts he's definitely a goner...

9:03AM PDT on Jul 17, 2009

Wow - hard to believe it's 2009 and young women are still dealing with this sort of crap! And today it's often referred to as "friendly rape"?? Hopefully he's prosecuted for violent crimes - because rape is not a sexual act, it's an act of violence against another human - with or without a gun - it's still violence. How sad that our society hasn't progressed past this by now. We look in horror at other countries where women are treated this way - and we are dealing with the same thing in our own backyard. How sad for all women in this country.

8:41AM PDT on Jul 17, 2009

During the Thirties and Forties in Hollywood (and probably Broadway, as well) most of the "starlets" and many of the female "stars" had to go willingly to the "casting couch" in order to get the contract and the role in a production. You recall Errol Flynn in court back then. How crass.

Which is more cruel, I wonder, the "casting couch" then or the one of today's predator?

6:41AM PDT on Jul 3, 2009

One commenter mentioned the age-old "casting couch". I imagine we often think of the "casting couch" being used by powerful manipulative men to victimize young women. Let's not forget that it's likely also used by men to victimize young men and increasingly by women to victimize young men. Men are no less victims because they are men.

2:35PM PDT on Jul 2, 2009

From the sparse details given, it seems as though there is strong evidence against this man (and his assistant). However, I am somewhat troubled regarding the fact that the story and the comments have all convicted him without trial. At what point do we start casting stones?

1:35PM PDT on Jun 26, 2009

This is just another man with power and nobody watched he was doing or could care less what he was doing so he got away with it until he finally was stopped.

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