Former porn star Ron Jeremy to be declared incompetent to stand trial for rape
Former adult film star Ron Jeremy is suffering from “severe dementia” and will be declared incompetent to stand trial on multiple charges of rape later this month, according to an L.A. County prosecutor in an email obtained by The Times.
Jeremy — whose legal name is Ronald Hyatt — was first charged in June 2020 with raping four women he had met in West Hollywood bars and clubs. The case quickly ballooned, as dozens of women came forward claiming the onetime porn king had been abusing women for decades at parties and adult film conventions or on movie sets.
Jeremy, 69, was later indicted on more than 30 counts of sexual assault stemming from allegations made by 20 women, with some of his alleged crimes dating to the 1990s. But weeks before Jeremy’s trial was set to begin last year, his defense attorney, Stuart Goldfarb, walked into a Los Angeles courtroom and said his client did not recognize him.
In an email obtained by The Times this week, L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Thompson said mental health experts called on by prosecutors and Jeremy’s defense team have determined he suffers from severe dementia, and there is no evidence he is faking his symptoms.
“As a result of the agreement of the experts, the defendant will be declared incompetent to stand trial ... his prognosis for improvement is not good,” Thompson wrote. “If he does not improve, we will not be able to try him for his crimes. Because criminal proceedings are suspended as long as he is incompetent, we also cannot get a guilty plea from him or discuss other measures to get justice for the victims in this case.”
Thompson and Goldfarb declined to comment Friday. Jeremy, who has denied all wrongdoing, is scheduled to appear in a Hollywood courtroom Jan. 17, when he will be formally declared incompetent to aid in his own defense, Thompson said in the email.
Although competency to stand trial is fluid — meaning a mentally incompetent defendant can later be found capable of standing trial after receiving medication or therapy over time — dementia is a progressive, degenerative illness from which Jeremy is unlikely to recover.
According to the email, the experts reached their conclusion based on a review of medical documents and interviews with Jeremy, his relatives and several of the L.A. County sheriff’s deputies who interacted with him while in custody. Some of Jeremy’s relatives apparently suspected he suffered from dementia before his 2020 arrest, “which was the catalyst that started the process that resulted in his driver’s license being taken away,” Thompson wrote in the email.
Once declared incompetent, Jeremy will probably be placed in a state-run hospital.
Lianne Young, a former British adult film star who first publicly accused Jeremy of assaulting her in an interview with The Times in 2020, said she was frustrated to learn there were concerns Jeremy had dementia long before prosecutors brought charges against him.
“My first reaction, I was kind of numb,” she said. “They were aware of his condition before getting us all involved. They were well aware he had dementia, so I’m very disappointed that they didn’t solve that bit before letting us go on that emotional journey for 2½ years.”
Greg Risling, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said prosecutors were unaware of the severity of Jeremy’s illness at the time charges were brought.
“Although his attorney expressed some concern for his declining faculties, we believed him to be competent at the time of filing based upon interviews we conducted with him, among other reasons,” Risling said. “We had no records at time of filing indicating that he had a dementia diagnosis.”
Young said she was wearing a bikini at an industry party at the former House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in 2000 when Jeremy came up behind her, shoved her against a table and forced himself inside her. The encounter lasted only seconds, according to Young, who said she fought him off quickly. After Young spoke with The Times, she said she was contacted by Sheriff’s Department investigators and later called to testify against Jeremy at a grand jury hearing.
Young said she doesn’t regret coming forward, as she believes the wave of allegations against Jeremy sparked a conversation about sexual abuse in the adult film industry. But she’s also concerned that, without a conviction, Jeremy may be absolved in the eyes of many of his fans.
“It’s going to come down to public opinion now, and public opinion has looked at Ron like a god,” she said. “It could be an indication to other predators or viewers of pornography that they can get away with such crimes.”
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.