David Guillod is best known for his work on the films The Extractor and Atomic Blonde, but it’s likely that this won’t be what he’s remembered for. The Hollywood producer was arrested on Wednesday, October 28 on suspicion of sexual assault, only four months after being charged with several counts of rape and kidnapping. The publicity of the #MeToo movement and the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood puts California firmly in the spotlight. But is the problem really more rife in The Golden State?
The charges against David Guillod
A woman reported being assaulted by Guillod on October 21. Detectives searched the producer’s home and took him to the Los Angeles Police Metropolitan Detention Center, where he is held on a bail of $5 million. His attorney, Phillip Cohen confirms the arrest, but has not yet offered further information. The accusation adds to a list of 15 charges currently held against Guillod, including three counts of rape and sodomy, spanning the period between 2012 and 2018. The producer is currently pleading ‘not guilty’ to all charges.
Celebrities on the sex offender list
Under California state law, unwelcome physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature includes deliberately making unsolicited sexual gestures or comments and the deliberate display of sexually graphic materials, amongst other serious acts. The job of a California sexual harassment lawyer is to fight the case for survivors and bring perpetrators to justice, which often sees them added to the sex offender list. This subjects them to various restrictions that limit their activities and reduce the risk of a repeat offense.
Perhaps the most well known case of a celebrity making it to the sex offender list is director Roman Polanski. Unfortunately, though, he is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are a shocking number of celebrity names on the list. These include Jeffery Jones, Paul Reubens and Victor Salva. There are a few reasons Hollywood has such a problem with sexual harassment, and these reasons make it a difficult culture to change. The entertainment industry as a whole requires intimate environments, and this can blur boundaries and make it easier to cross lines that are obvious to most people.
There is also a long held belief amongst many in the industry that any behavior is reasonable if it leads to great art, and this has led many celebrities in positions of power to abuse that power for their own gain. Finally, firing one person in Hollywood can have a knock-on effect, with the only reasonable conclusion being to fire many people. These reasons work together to compound the problem, and over the years, an unhealthy resignation to the fact that sexual harassment is just a part of life has grown in the entertainment industry.
Is sexual harassment really worse in California?
A 2019 report found that sexual harassment rates in California are indeed higher than the national average. Anita Raj, PhD, the director of the Center for Gender Equity and Health (GEH) at UC San Diego School of Medicine notes that California has “led the nation’s focus on the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement.” However, she says, the report demonstrates that sexual harassment is not just a problem in the entertainment industry, and shows high rates of abuse amongst some of the state’s most marginalized residents, including foreign-born men, and members of the queer community.
The study found that over 86% of women in California have experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault, compared with 81% of women nationally. The figures for men stand at 53%, compared with 43% across the rest of the nation. Meanwhile, a coalition of US groups surveyed 850 women in the film industry, and found that a shocking 94% of women in Hollywood experience sexual harassment or assault. While figures may be higher than average across the state, it’s clear that a large part of the problem lies in Hollywood.
David Guillod’s arrest makes it clear that sexual harassment in Hollywood remains a problem. The entertainment industry still has a lot of work to do to overhaul a toxic culture in which sexual harassment has become an inevitable part of life. However, the 2019 GEH report demonstrates that the problem is not just in the entertainment industry, and is a state-wide problem that must be addressed.