Category Archives: safety of minors

Filmmakers often explore the problem of underage relationships, especially in smaller movies

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The issue of adults being (often wrongfully) perceived and accused for intimate involvement with minors comes up quite often in film.  I’ll cover a few of the major films here, setting up a later blog posting about another incident when I was substitute teaching.  I cover many of these films on one particular page, here.  See related posting here Feb. 13, 2014 on a controversial NBC Dateline series.

The most important of these films is probably “Student Seduction” (2003), a film from Lionsgate and usually aired on Lifetime, directed by Peter Svartek.  I saw it on cable the day after had started subbing on 2004.  The film presents a married female chemistry teacher, who makes the mistake of tutoring a high school male and then accepting help starting her car from him, and having a snack in a restaurant.  When he comes on to her and rapes her at school, she is accused of inappropriate behavior with an underage minor and prosecuted, and the boy’s wealthy parents keep the charges on.  It makes teaching look like a risky job.

One of the most important foreign films in this area is “Bad Education” (“La mala educacion”, 2004, Sony Pictures Classics) from Pedro Almodovar.  The film is layered  A young Spaniard presents a screenplay “The Visit” about an earlier episode of possible abuse in the Catholic priesthood.  Enrique uses writing to solve a real life mystery.

Strand will release a BluRay DVD of the 2005 drama “Mysterious Skin”, by Gregg Araki, based on the book by Scott Heim, which tells the story of two victims of a high school coach as they grow up and lives intersect.  One of these is a hustler played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the other is a sensitive kid (Brady Corbet) with an interest in UFO’s.

Frisk” (1999, Strand), by Todd Verow, based on a novel by Dennis Cooper, tells of the graphic crimes of a serial killer, from letters written by someone with the same name as the author, so it could be seen as possibly exploring the odd legal problem of self-libel or implicit content.

The Woodsman” (Mew Market, 2004) by Nicole Kassel, presents Kevin Bacon as going on parole after prison for a crime involving a small girl.

Capturing the Friedmans” (2003, Magnolia) has prosecutors on Long Island going after a family relentlessly for perhaps unfounded accusations of abuse.

Just Ask the Children” (2001) presents an overzealous prosecution of parents in California, where Gregroy Smith plays the grown teenager.  Smith would play in another film, “Kids in America”, about free speech in a high school, a film I would see in an auditorium by myself shortly after my own debacle.

L.I.E.” (“Long Island Expressway‘) , by Michael Cueta, presents a pedophile Brian Cox who has a relationship with a disadvantaged teenager whom he catches trying to burglarize his home.  I saw the film at a screening on Sept. 11, 2001 at the Lagoon Theater, and met the director afterward, who as stranded in Minneapolis for three days because of 9/11.  Later the film would be edited to remove a shot of the old World Trade Center.

Hard Candy” (Lionsgate, 2006) presents Patrick Wilson as a photographer who gets caught in a Dateline-like sting looking for a young girl, but the enforcer is the girl herself, ready for revenge.

Notes on a Scandal” (2006), from the UK presents Judi Dench taking advantage of another women whom she catches with a teen.

In “Whole New Thing” (ThinkFilm, 2006),  a gay English teacher in Nova Scotia develops a platonic relationship with a shy teen, and it is misinterpreted.

Edge of 17” (1999, David Moreton), tells a coming of age of a high school student who falls in love with an older college student in Ohio in 1984.  The title would suggest illegality in some states, however.

Deliver Us from Evil” (2006), by Amy Berg, is a documentary of the coverup of the pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church, told through the story of a particular priest in the California Sam Joaquin Valley.

The Country Teacher”  (“Venkovsky ucitel“), by Bohdan Siama (2008), from Czech Television and Film Movement and Netflix, presents a somewhat ungainly young teacher (Pavel Liska) taking a job in a rural high school, living on a farm and getting into an inappropriate relationship with the 17-year-old son (Ladislav Sedivy), which the boy suddenly rejects.  The consequences are not as severe as they would probably be in the US.  But some European countries may have more lenient age standards in this regard than the US and UK do.

Lolita”  has been made twice, once in 1997 by Adrian Lyne for Trimark, with Jeremy Irons, and earlier back in 1962 by Stanley Kubrick in black and white for Columbia, a setting that is somewhat comical.  In the later film, a middle aged man marries his landlady to get to her tween daughter;  in the earlier film, the oaf is a college professor played by James Mason.  It was also made in Germany in 1984.  There was also a TV movie in 1993, “Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story” about Joey Buttafuoco.

Picture: winter, childhood, Arlington VA, about 1948.

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014, about 10:20 PM.

 

NBC Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” ought to have a followup report now; Chris Hansen no longer at NBC though

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There was one particular reality television series on NBC Dateline which also help set up a climate change in Internet law and awareness issues of Internet safety.

That was NBC’s “To Catch a Predator”.  The concept was to work with a volunteer phone group called “Perverted Justice” (link ) Members of the group would pose as legal minors, and enter chat rooms.  Men would contact them and then go to a particular home for a liaison.  In all but the first two of the episodes, police or the sheriff’s department would arrest the men as they left.  Chris Hansen, the lead journalist, would appear in place of the intended minor, and quiz and scold the visitor.  (“Why are you here?  I want to go over the chat logs. This isn’t a gay-straight thing.”)

NBC does not appear to have an active link for the show now, but there are various links for specific episodes, such as here.

The first episode occurred on Long Island in November 2004.  The next episode did not air until early November 2005, but had been taped in mid August 2005 at a home in Herndon, VA.  One of the most awful cases involved a rabbi named David Kaye, who had worked in his faith in education in suburban Maryland.  He had actually used his work computer in the chats, some of which (reproduced by peej) became quite graphic.   He tried to get NBC not to air his segment, which of course he could not prevent. He resigned from his job right before the airing.  At the apparent prodding from Peej, the FBI began to investigate him.  He was contacted and told to surrender in late May, 2006.  He never saw home for 12 years.  Despite the lengthy time before bringing charges, he was denied bail, and convicted in a most interestingly written opinion in federal court in Alexandria, VA.  He served about six years and would follow with ten years supervised probation. The Washington Post story by Jerry Markson of the Dec. 2, 2006 sentencing hearing, where Kaye sobbed, is here.

Stings were set up in a number of states: Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas,  California.  In California, a cancer researcher fell for the trap.  In Texas, an assistant DA was caught and committed suicide. That led to litigation, as reported in the Los Angeles Times here.

One of the most important moral points was that the “entrapment” defense could not work, because most states will punish attempting to contact a person that the perpetrator believes to be a minor.  There may have to be a specific person, but the person can be a decoy.  Stings run by police departments are common now, particularly in the Washington DC area in all local jurisdictions.  In one case, an Army general was arrested in Union Station by Metro Transit Police in trying to set up an encounter after traveling across the country on government expense.

It’s very important to note that about 90-95% of the men who came to the sting houses were looking for females.  This was mostly a heterosexual thing (Vladimir Putin’s recent comments, as well as the Kaye case,  notwithstanding).

A disturbing comparison could be made to the case of Justin Berry, who started answering requests from chat rooms to make his own videos, as reported in the New York Times video here.  Berry has since cooperated with police and the DOJ.

NBC would follow up with a sequel later called “Predator Raw” with excerpt from the series, on MSNBC.

Chris Hansen would author a book, “To Catch a Predator”, published in 2007 by Dutton, link for my Blogger review here.

Hansen would eventually be “dumped” by NBC, according to a New York Post story, here.

Arrests of teachers for improper conduct with students seemed to be reported in the media much more often starting in 2006.

NBC Dateline (which sponsored the series) should report on what happened to many of the convicts, many of whom would be released by now, especially Kaye.  This would be a disturbing but important project for an independent film documentary.

ABC 20-20, on Feb. 14. 2014,  reported on a troubling case in Florida about a n 18 year old girl in a relationship with a 14 year old, and not realizing that it could be illegal, link here.

(First published Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 11 PM EST.)