Celebrity Justice: Reality Edition
It hasn’t been a good week for reality TV. Vis-a-vis the law, at least.
As I write this, there’s an international manhunt underway for a reality TV show contestant, Ryan Alexander Jenkins, 32, who appeared on the VH1 reality show “Megan Wants a Millionaire.” Why are police looking for Jenkins? Well, he’s a “person of interest” in the slaying of swimsuit model Jasmine Fiore, whose body was found in a suitcase which was stumbled upon in a trash bin in Orange County. Jenkins was reportedly married to Fiore and made the missing persons report on Saturday, police say. He’s suspected to be heading home to his native Canada, where he was supposedly a real estate developer in Calgary, or an investment banker, or plays one or the other on (reality) TV.
Interestingly, VH1 issued a statement seemingly distancing the network from Jenkins and the show, saying, “Ryan Jenkins was a contestant on Megan Wants A Millionaire, an outside production, produced and owned by 51 Minds, that is licensed to VH1. The show completed production at the end of March. Given the unfortunate circumstances, VH1 has postponed any future airings. This is a tragic situation and our thoughts go out to the victim’s family.”
Also today, Alex Da Silva, 41, a choreographer on the FOX television show “So You Think You Can Dance,” was arraigned for rape and sexual assault in a Van Nuys courthouse. (Incidentally, it’s a budget crisis-induced furlough day, so this arraignment seems extra notable). He was arrested yesterday for sexually assaulting four female victims, officials say.
Da Silva was charged with “eight felony counts, including four counts of forcible rape, two counts of assault with intent to commit rape and two counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object. He is being held on $6.2 million bail,” according to a statement by Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.
“Deputy District Attorney Rosa Alarcon with the Sex Crimes Division said alleged assaults involve four victims between the ages of 20 and 26. The assaults occurred between August 2002 and March 2009. The alleged victims are either dancers or aspiring dancers who met him through his dance instruction classes,” says the DA’s office. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
This induces a tingle of the Anand Jon Alexander rape case. He’s the Beverly Hills fashion designer “Anand Jon” whose 15 minutes of fame on America’s Next Top Model were eclipsed by the infamy of his rape trial and subsequent convictions.
Anand Jon was found guilty last year of raping one woman and sexually assaulting six other girls and young women and will be sentenced in an LA court on August 31. That charge faces a mandatory term of life in prison. He’s also looking at sexual-assault charges in New York and Texas.
In addition to these more violent crimes, you have Richard Hatch, the openly gay Survivor winner returning to jail today for reportedly doing improper interviews for the NBC family (The Today Show, Access Hollywood). It’s conventional wisdom here in and around Hollywood, that celebrities don’t get convicted of crimes: O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake were acquitted of murder, and music producer Phil Spector was only convicted after two trials – the first of which resulted in a hung jury. It’ll be interesting to see if the bar seems lower for the quasi-famous defendants of reality TV.
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