Oscar-winner charged with rape, assault

June 23, 2009 2:57:47 PM PDT
A man who won an Oscar for his music is now facing charges, accused of raping women who answered his ads on Craigslist.Police say 71-year-old composer and director Joseph Brooks, best known for the Academy Award-winning 1970's hit "You Light Up My Life," used his name and career to lure women and then commit horrible crimes.

Brooks allegedly posted ads on the Craigslist, and when women responded, he set up meetings at locations where he sexually assaulted them.

Several victims claim they were forced to take off their clothes before Brooks made unwanted sexual advances. The charges include rape and sexual assault.

One of the 11 alleged victims is reportedly American Idol contestant Loretta Spruell, who says Brooks enticed her into his apartment under the ruse that she was auditioning for a film role. Instead, prosecutors say he ripped off her clothes and forced her to have sex with him.

Brooks' lawyer claims all the allegations are false, but if convicted, Brooks could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Prosecutors say the victims range in age from 18 to 30. Brooks faces 91 counts.

Brooks' personal assistant, 42-year-old Shawni Lucier, is also charged with facilitating attacks on at least nine of the victims. Ten of them victims were reportedly flown by Brooks on commercial airlines to New York.

Four of victims were 18 and one was 19. Nine of the 11 reportedly responded to his ad on Craigslist.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau is urging other victims to come forward.

Prosecutors uncovered one allegation from 1970, but it pre-dates the change in the statute of limitations, so it is not prosecutable. The statute was five years until it was eliminated in 2006.

"We think there are probably other cases," Morgenthau said.

Lucier is accused of arranging the encounters "with full knowledge of what was going to happen," Morgenthau said.

Prosecutors say she actually got on the telephone to reassure the parents of the young women, in many cases, that the meetings with Brooks were for legitimate purposes.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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