The month of Halloween is here, and nothing epitomizes horror more than the classic Jeepers Creepers franchise.
Recently, the third film in the series was screened in theaters for limited, one-night showings on September 26th and October 4th. While viewers consumed jump scares and formulaic lore onscreen, a more horrifying truth resurfaced behind the scenes.
In 1988, Salva was convicted on charges of sexual molestation of Nathan Forrest Winters, the 12-year-old star of his movie Clownhouse.
After Winters informed his parents of what was happening to him, authorities raided Salva’s apartment to find child pornography, including video footage of Winters’ molestation. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison, of which he only served 15 months. Salva then went on to direct a Disney movie (Powder) in 1995, once again being permitted to work with children, and found commercial success in 2001 with Jeepers Creepers.
Nathan Forrest Winters never appeared in another film after his experience.
This is nothing new. From Academy Award-winning scumbags like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski to TV predators-pardon-personalities like Mike Tyson, Hollywood continues to perpetuate its abhorrent pattern of forgiving and rewarding its sexual predators. By not only ignoring the reduced sentence served, and allowing Salva so readily back into the fold, the industry makes it known that it will continue to place the livelihood of the sexual offender over that of the victim.
A colleague of Salva’s onset of Powder only cemented this ugly truth when he stated that, “if [Salva] has something to contribute to society, and it happens to be in a film, let him do that. The movie and the incident that occurred eight to 10 years ago are not related and it would be a shame if the movie was not allowed to stand on its own.”
Because why should we hold onto the fact that a grown man sexually abused and traumatized a child when it happened years ago and said-person has thusly changed for the better, right?
Nathan Forrest Winters provided an excellent response when Powder was set to come out in theaters: “Please don’t spend your money on this movie. It would just go to line the pockets of this child molester. I needed to face this. I’ve lived through years and years and years of pain and trauma. I’m being healed daily. It’s unreal the amount of stuff that’s built up all these years that’s starting to be released. But it doesn’t work like, ‘Boom! — I’m OK now.'”
Winters expresses the painful process of recovery and healing that many victims of sexual abuse must trudge through, all while their abusers lead lives untethered by the trauma or consequence of their actions. Even more so, when these predators aren’t eviscerated in the eye of the public as they should be, but rather pardoned or celebrated. The ex-actor is now raising money now to start a nonprofit that will raise awareness and help survivors of child sex abuse, a campaign you can donate to and share here.
So this Halloween, educate yourself and avoid unconsciously supporting criminals through their work.
And then maybe Hollywood will finally start treating these predators like the horror movie monsters they are: with relentless legal persecution and pitchforks.