Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Corey Feldman and What's Wrong with the Corey's Law Petition

Corey Feldman and What's Wrong with the Corey's Law Petition
by Angela Smith, HEAL National Coordinator/Co-Founder

First, let me say I believe Corey Feldman was a victim of exploitation and abuse as a young child actor.  I have compassion for all such victims and wish justice for everyone who has been harmed by exploitation and abuse.

I do believe Feldman has engaged in unethical conduct and exploitation of young women over the years and I find it personally difficult to reconcile my support for Corey the victim with my frustration with his actions as an adult towards his former "angels".  Mara Moon (a former Corey's Angel) reports he physically, emotionally, and verbally abused her regularly.  [See: http://ccreports.ca/2017/12/09/exclusive-former-coreys-angel-mara-moon-speaks-out/]  I find it very difficult to balance supporting victims who become perpetrators, especially if it continues over a long period of time with multiple victims and no remorse or regret for the harm caused to others.

I was willing to set aside my annoyance with this whole situation for the sake of hoping that justice may finally be served.  And, I will say I believe Judy Haim and Corey Haim over Corey Feldman regarding what happened to Corey Haim and who is to blame.  In addition, after many comparisons I have seen a lot of inconsistency in Feldman's claims.  All of this has led me to believe he is not the best person to bring this issue to light. 

All that said, I was initially going to support the petition for "Corey's Law" [you can view and sign it now at: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/coreys-law] , but, being a legal researcher I wanted to check the language of the petition before going forward with that.  I've repeatedly met with federal legislators who have repeatedly informed me that much of what needs to be done to protect children and youth from exploitation and abuse MUST occur at the State level.  So, I wanted to check the federal laws and statute of limitations on sex crimes against minors. 

Guess what?  There IS NO FEDERAL STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS on federal prosecution of kidnapping, sex abuse and sex crimes against children and youth.[1] [18 U.S.C. § 3299]  So, a petition to create a new law extending the Statute of Limitations is unnecessary and superfluous because such crimes that meet the federal requirements for prosecution can be prosecuted as long as the victim is still alive or within 10 years of the crime, whichever is longer.

So, what are the federal requirements for such prosecutions?  "Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly engages in a sexual act with [a minor]..." can be federally prosecuted.[2]  [18 U.S. Code § 2243 - Sexual abuse of a minor or ward]  So, if there is a private detention center holding a federal contract housing undocumented (or citizen) minors where they have been raped or assaulted, then, the federal government can prosecute, for example.  But, when it comes to crimes committed in local or state jurisdictions, it is those jurisdictions that set the Statute of Limitations.  So, in the case of Corey's law, you would want it to be initiated in the State of California (or any individual State) in order to eliminate or extend the Statute of Limitations.  Corey's Law's petition says they want to extend the federal Statute of Limitations indefinitely.  However, there is no Statute of Limitations on this type of crime at the federal level and therefore the language of the petition is virtually meaningless when it comes to any federal reform, since no federal reform is needed on this particular issue.  What we need is State reforms and this is why HEAL has been working on our State Action Plan for many years with some successes around the country.  The legal language that should be used if looking to eliminate the statute of limitations should be the language set forth in the federal statute.  Alaska is one state that already has no Statute of Limitations on sex crimes against minors.[3]  So, their existing Statute can also be used as a model for California or other states to adopt.  And, HEAL Illinois' campaign for reform includes a petition specifically citing Alaska's law in asking Illinois to make the needed reforms which could be used as a template for actions in other states.  See: https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/illinois-general-assembly?source=c.tw&r_by=10225086

Now, what about California?  Commencing in January of 2017, the new law in California eliminates the Statute of Limitations on prosecuting sex offenses.  So, the problem has been solved in California for now.[4]  Activists in California will want to keep an eye on this issue and make sure that if a new Statute of Limitations is imposed (none now exists), that it protects the rights of victims and understands the trauma that results in delayed reporting which has previously resulted in failure to prosecute due to past statutory constraints. 

So, what can Corey do?  Well, if he successfully proves that he named names of evident abusers in a report to the proper (LAPD) California authorities before his 40th birthday and that he filed a complaint against those abusers willing to press charges before his 40th birthday, then he may finally see justice served.  If he did not file an official complaint prior to his 40th birthday, then he may not get justice given the state of the law leading up to his 40th birthday in California.  However, if he discusses it with an attorney and can prove that he asked to file some complaints or press charges but was refused by law enforcement, he may have a civil suit against those law enforcement agencies.  Given that it has been 24 years since the 1993 interview with law enforcement, it may once again be too late for even a civil suit for malfeasance against those agencies.  And, that is likely his only option given that he is now 46 years old and under the old law, he needed to come forward before his 40th birthday in California.

Alas, all of the above paragraph is also moot.  Because, when Feldman was interviewed by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff''s Office and reportedly "named names", law enforcement told him he needed to file those reports in Los Angeles County or with the LAPD because the crimes were in that jurisdiction, NOT Santa Barbara County.  Feldman admits he never followed up by filing complaints or reports in the proper jurisdiction.  So, he cannot now claim that he was denied access or no one would listen to him because he was told to report in the proper jurisdiction and chose not to do so.  You can see the evidence of all of this by watching the video here: https://youtu.be/llEUEg_F-YE.  [Please do not assume this is an endorsement of that entire video or channel.  But, Feldman clearly states he was told by the SB Sheriff to file reports in LA County, the proper jurisdiction and he clearly says he never followed through with doing that.]

I would suggest any individuals who were victims while a ward or minor in federal custody or assaulted while on federal land/property, immediately report those crimes to the FBI.  You can find reporting resources at http://www.heal-online.org/report.htm.  If the crimes against you do not meet requirements for federal prosecution, you will need to file complaints and press charges against those that harmed you at the State or Local level and depending on jurisdiction, you may or may not see justice served.  This is why we ask that you become smart activists and actually know what is needed before creating petitions and taking action so you don't waste your own time and everyone else's. 

HEAL actually researches everything before we create any petitions or organize any marches/protests/campaigns.  Because, we don't want to waste anyone's time, especially our own.  So, we hope you will become a smart activist too, if you are not already, and use your mind more than your emotions when deciding how best to advocate on any issue.  A good primer for new and/or confused activists is HEAL's free e-book available at: http://www.heal-online.org/activism101.pdf. 
Become better informed citizens and vote like an activist.  These are the two most important things you can do towards improving things in the US.  And, they require some effort on your part that doesn't involve self-absorption, throwing parties or events to celebrate yourself, or emotional pleas for money and praise.  We can change things when we understand how and take the right actions.  HEAL has proven this to be true.  So, it is up to you to decide whether you want to be a poser or a hero.  If you choose hero, you can organize with us or ask for our assistance for your independent campaigns by following the guidelines at http://www.heal-online.org/solidarity.htm.  Godspeed.

[1] https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL31253.pdf (page 5)
[2] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2243
[3] http://codes.findlaw.com/ak/title-12-code-of-criminal-procedure/ak-st-sect-12-10-010.html
[4] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/28/495856974/california-eliminates-statute-of-limitations-on-rape-cases

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