In a new video first shared by the Citizen Free Press, actor and film producer John Paul Rice exposes what he described as a ring of “child abuse” in Hollywood.
In the clip, which has not been independently vetted or fact-checked, Rice alleges that he was first vocal about the issue when the so-called #MeToo movement was just gaining prominence. But his concerns, he says, were largely swept under the rug.
“When the ‘Me Too’ movement started in 2017 I reached out to several of my female actress friends who were prominent in L.A. […] and I said ‘What about the children?’ And the response was, ‘We know, we know.’ But they were silent on it. And it destroyed me,” Rice said, according to the Citizen Free Press.
The Hollywood producer went on: “This is a child abuse system that we have been living in for a very long time, and it’s been allowed to go on, and I will not be silent about this. Because it affects every single one of us.”
Rice was referring in his talk to a widespread movement in the U.S. that began after the 2017 arrest of once-esteemed movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. In the months that followed, numerous women came forward with their own stories about sexual harassment and abuse in and out of the workplace. (Weinstein, for his part, was found guilty of rape in February 2020, according to NPR.)
As Vox reported, the #MeToo movement ultimately ended the careers of stars like former NBC News host Matt Lauer, who faced allegations of sexual abuse and harassment.
Rice’s accusations of similar abuse toward children mirror claims that have reverberated across social media in the weeks following the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, a high-profile associate of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison last year awaiting a trial on sex trafficking charges.
Epstein was widely believed to have operated a sex ring that involved children, and big names in politics — like former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew — have taken flak for being associated with him. Now, it seems the rumor mill has made its way to Hollywood.
As WIRED senior writer Kate Knibbs reported earlier this month:
[B]oth [Ellen] DeGeneres and Tom Hanks, along with Oprah Winfrey, have become targets of rumors from the right-wing conspiracy group known as QAnon, which…has started “piggybacking on the anti-human-trafficking movement,” as Kevin Roose recently wrote for The New York Times. Q adherents, as the conspiracy’s followers are called, are now insisting that Ellen, Tom, Oprah, and other high-profile liberal celebrities are part of a global pedophile ring.
Subsequent reports have insisted that there is no truth to the claims.
The future ahead
It remains to be seen whether new evidence will be presented that lends credence to claims from Rice and others about an under-the-radar crime ring in Hollywood.
One can only hope if such evidence does materialize, Attorney General Bill Barr will be as hard on Hollywood as he’s promised to be on Epstein’s alleged co-conspirators.