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Every child who was sexually abused should be able to get the justice that was denied to me

The best way to protect children from abusers is to extend the statute of limitations and allow them to pursue justice when they're ready.
Corey Feldman And NYAHP Support Child Victims Act At New York State Capitol
Actor Corey Feldman speaks in support of the Child Victims Act at the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York on March 14, 2018.Brett Carlsen / Getty Images file

When it comes to Hollywood, it seems we finally have acknowledged some of pain and struggle the women in my industry have been facing, and we finally started to actually call individual people out and take action against them for the terrible things they've done.

But, unfortunately, what has happened to children in my industry was by and large ignored and, at this point, it’s been all but brushed under the rug. Hollywood seems much more ready to accept responsibility for what it's done to women than they are willing to face that there is still a deep-seated virus within this industry — and, most unfortunately, it’s not an industry-exclusive disease, but also effects other parts of our culture.

My focus is on the Hollywood side of things, but my intention is to help more than just the children in the industry. I want to be a voice of strength for survivors who live in fear of bringing their predators to justice, and to grow public awareness about more than just what's happened in this industry — it lives somewhere within many families, unrecognized and ignored. Child sexual abuse is far more common than many people realize.

That's why I've become an ambassador for an organization called Child USA.

Child USA's principle purpose is helping victims find their voice, by going state-by-state and changing the statutes of limitations so that the children who are survivors, and particularly those who are adult survivors, get a chance to get justice. The problem right now is that, by the time that children have the wherewithal to know that something was wrong — to know that something wrong was done to them — and have the strength to admit it to their peers or to their family, it's far too late in many states to take the perpetrators to court, either criminally or in civil suits.

They're in situations like I am, or in situations like my best friend Corey Haim was in, where we never got the chance to face our abusers. Justice can never be served to survivors because of these statute of limitation laws.

That's why Marci Hamilton, who is the CEO and Founder of Child USA, has been tirelessly advocating to reform the statutes of limitations: To allow people like us to get justice. If you're a victim, you should have every right to tell your story, and to try and get justice regardless of how long it took you to understand what happened to you.

Personally, I am incensed that my morality was taken for granted. I am infuriated that I was never given the opportunity to go through the process of coming of age like most children were. I was raped of my innocence — as was Corey Haim. That's not okay; that's not acceptable. For me, the only real justice is to — hopefully — one day see those guys that did this stuff to us face the consequences that they deserve. I pray every day, that God's will finds its way to them.

I spoke about this last year, when I lent the power of my voice to Child USA in Albany, New York, after Governor Cuomo put the Child Victim's Act in his budget. I just kept saying to state senators and staff, anyone who would listen, "Let's get this bill pushed through. How do we get this bill pushed through?" But the Republicans who controlled the state Senate refused to sign it.

Obviously there's been some big changes this year, with the Democrats taking over the Senate in New York, and both houses are going to be voting on the CVA on Monday, where it's expected to pass and the governor has said he'll sign it.

This is a huge, huge step, because now if New York (which is obviously a bellwether state) decides to reform the statute of limitations for child abuse cases, with a mandatory retroactive roll back window, that means many survivors in the state will be able to come forward with their stories. Governor Cuomo was a tremendous conduit for making this actually happen, because he added it again to the budget this year. Without him, and the sponsors, Sens. Brad Hoylman and Linda Rosenthal, pushing this, it wouldn't have happened.

But there's still more to do.

I want to be a voice of strength for survivors who live in fear of bringing their predators to justice, and to grow public awareness about more than just what's happened in this industry.

California, for instance, removed the statute of limitations for all sex abuse crimes in 2018, but it's not retroactive. And, though the state passed a law in 2013 requiring that everyone who works with child actors — down to the people who take their headshots — be fingerprinted and pass an FBI background check as part of a permit process to weed out sex offenders, the law has been widely ignored. People who are doing the hiring at the studio level, the agents, the managers, the publicists, everybody needs to be able look on the list and say, Hey, is this person that I'm considering working with a child sex offender? If they are, they have no place on my set. The safety of our children should come first when we're on those sets, period.

I do think my story is slowly beginning to change things in Hollywood, at least a little. Even if I’m never to be given any credit for bringing this story to light, if it makes any difference, I will be pleased. And, though early reactions to my story were muted, it seems that the tide is finally starting to turn. Take Lifetime's recent documentary, "Surviving R. Kelly": I thought that was a great step forward, as it seems to have generated a reaction from those in power.

However a year ago, the reaction from Hollywood when I launched a campaign to make a movie based on my book (the New York Times bestseller “Coreyography") was not what I expected. I really thought, at that time, that I would get hundreds of calls from all of my colleagues, from all of my associates going, Oh my God, we didn't even know, or, We heard about this. What can we do to help? How do we get involved? Let me help you get this film made. This needs to happen. I didn't get much of that.

There were, of course, a few friends and supporters who immediately reached out, people like Sean Astin (who I've been friends with forever) and my good friend Richard Donner, who has always been very supportive. But nobody handed over a million dollars, or two million dollars, or five million dollars and said, Let's get this movie made. That was something that I was really expecting to happen; that's how Hollywood normally works, even when you're trying to go against the grain and get a dangerous truth out through a movie. Making a feature film of that nature is a very costly venture, because you're talking about a giant production and a huge cast of great actors to recreate the moments from a book.

So I completely retooled and rethought everything, and decided that the most important thing is for the truth to get out as soon as possible. Obviously I don't have any proof that what happened to Corey and I is still happening in Hollywood, but I have to only imagine that it's still happening today; I've read the news and heard similar stories myself. It's disgusting to me that nobody has ever taken the time to even investigate what I've been saying. Nobody's ever taken the time to say, What if the things Corey Feldman has been saying all along are true?"

I mean, I would love to be proven wrong. I've been telling people, Please prove me wrong. Please show me that this is not happening.

But no one tried.

So I decided to just make a straight documentary, which we're calling "Truth: The Rape of Two Coreys." We've spent the last year working diligently to get it done the right way, and I'm very proud of what we've got. We hired a director, Brian Herzlinger (of "My Date With Drew") and have a line-up of both well-known and unknown people from the industry who bore witness to many of the things we are talking about. There is no editing; there is no silencing. We're very, very close. Hopefully we'll have it out very soon.

And then I'm done telling my personal story.

I'll keep fighting for the children's rights, and I'll keep working alongside Child USA to reform these statutes of limitations. I believe this is bigger than just a part of the #Metoo movement; it is the coming of a new children’s rights movement. A few years ago, I gave a name to the movement I hoped to see, as a way to pay respect to the larger crisis at hand: #Kids2. This crisis of abuse must stop, the tide must turn and we must make protecting children’s innocence our top priority as a society.

As told to THINK editor Megan Carpentier, edited and condensed for clarity.