Talent manager pleads no contest in child abuse case

Los Angeles Times

A Hollywood manager who specialized in representing young actors pleaded no contest Friday to two counts of child molestation and was released from county jail that afternoon.

Martin Weiss, 47, faced eight felony counts of molesting an aspiring singer and musician he once represented. He entered a no-contest plea to two counts of committing lewd acts on a child under the age of 14, according to a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Leslie Dunn sentenced Weiss to one year in county jail and five years of probation. Weiss, who has been in custody awaiting trial since his arrest in December, was eligible for immediate release for time served.

Weiss was ordered to enter a sex offender program and must register as a sex offender. The judge also instructed him to stay away from the victim and barred him from having access to any child under the age of 18 without another adult being present.

Anne Henry, co-founder of BizParents Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for child actors and their families, said the outcome of the case underscores the need for tougher laws that would prevent convicted child molesters from representing young talent.

“The fact that a man could abuse children and spend six months in jail is heartbreaking,” Henry said. “And that he is eligible today to go right back out and work with children in our industry — that’s unacceptable.”

Weiss’ attorney declined to comment.

Legislation designed to prevent convicted child sex offenders from working with children in Hollywood passed the state Assembly on Wednesday, with a vote of 78-0.

The bill, which has more than 100 supporters — including child actor groups such as BizParents Foundation and A Minor Consideration, as well as the Motion Picture Assn. of America — will now move on to the California Senate.

The bill would require talent managers, photographers and others whose jobs involve unsupervised access to child performers to submit to criminal background checks. It would prohibit registered sex offenders from representing minors.

“Although the majority of child modeling and acting managers are legitimate, there are still loopholes within the laws that make it very easy for a predator to gain access to children,” said Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose), the bill’s sponsor.