Anita Busch, the hard-charging former journalist whose discovery of a dead fish on her car led to the downfall of infamous Hollywood “fixer” Anthony Pellicano, disclosed for the first time to The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday that she was viciously raped in 2003, just as the intimidation and terror tactics she describes had reached a harrowing crescendo.
Busch, who has long since dedicated her life to aiding victims of mass shootings, said she was assaulted in February of 2003 by two men in a parking garage on a dark evening in Los Angeles, where she had returned from New York in a failed bid to escape her tormentors’ reach. She said the attack was so brutal, it left her bedridden for more than a year and using a wheelchair for the next five.
“I was given a strong message by them, which was: ‘If you report this, if you don’t stop helping law enforcement, we are going to come back and kill you or harm your family.’ And I believed it 100 percent,” she told THR.
Busch said she was too “petrified” to contact police, but reported the attack to family and friends, including a former colleague and a former assistant, both of whom independently corroborated her story to THR. She did not directly blame Pellicano, but said “there’s no doubt in my mind that it had to do with the whole Pellicano case. … It could have been dirty LAPD cops. It could have been anyone. I don’t know who it was.”
Pellicano, who was released from prison in 2019 and is now 79, told THR: “I had nothing to do with that, nor would ever have anything to do with something so despicable.”
Busch said the rape caused a concussion and back injuries that left her bedridden for 14 months, but only her closest friends knew the reason for her widely known struggles with health and mobility. “I had to literally learn how to walk again,” she said.
Then in 2012, Busch’s 23-year-old cousin Micayla Medek was killed in the Aurora movie theater shooting. Busch found a new purpose, and would go on to found the nonprofit VictimsFirst, which she says so far has donated more than $10 million in direct aid to mass shooting victims and their families.
Now 62, Busch spends all of her time traveling between sites of horrific shooting sprees, with a mission not just to raise money, but make ironclad sure that every dollar goes directly to victims with the greatest needs. Over the years she’s enlisted help from Hollywood connections including Casey Affleck and the late Garry Shandling, a close personal friend who had also faced Pellicano’s wrath.
As a young journalist from Illinois, Busch had already earned a dragonslayer reputation with stints at The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and as a freelancer writing critically about Michel Ovitz – a Pellicano client – for The New York Times. When she joined The Los Angeles Times in 2002, she was soon assigned to investigate how a Gambino family-connected producer was getting his name on the films of Steven Seagal – also a Pellicano client.
What happened next is a tale that will be told in Hollywood for time immemorial.
After an initial round of reporting the Seagal story, one day Busch got a knock on her door, and outside her mid-Wilshire apartment, the neighbors were gathered around her silver rental Audi. On her windshield was a plastic-wrapped dead fish with a rose in its mouth; a hole had been punched in the glass, with a note tossed inside saying only “Stop.”
She reported the incident to police, kicking off what she for years has described as a drumbeat of death threats, harassment, intimidation tactics and wiretapping. An investigation into Pellicano led authorities to raid his office, where FBI agents discovered explosives, stacks of cash and wiretap equipment that led to his arrest and conviction on weapons charges.