California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to protect child actors from being exploited by sexual predators into law on Thursday. Momentum for the new law began after several reports broke about talent agents with histories of child molestation working with minors.
The new law would prevent registered sex offenders from working as talent agents, publicists or in other capacities for actors who are minors. It also requires entertainment industry professionals who work with young actors to undergo background checks to receive a permit to represent minors.
Among the revelations that prompted the heightened protections were a report last winter that Martin Weiss, a longtime manager of young talent, was arrested on suspicion of child molestation stemming from allegations made by an 18-year-old former client. His arrest happened less than a month after reports surfaced that a convicted child molester and registered sex offender named Jason James Murphy was casting children for movies.
The legislation aimed at preventing sexual exploitation was endorsed by Hollywood trade unions and advocated by "Diff'rent Strokes" star Todd Bridges and "Stand By Me" actor Corey Feldman, both of whom claim to have been molested by entertainment-industry figures.
Funding for the act will be included in next year's budget.