Court Gags Broadway Beast Actor’s Lawyer

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

NEW YORK – A lawyer for a Broadway actor accused of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl may not publicize the teen’s name in an effort to learn whether she has falsely accused anyone of molesting her, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

The appeals court rejected the attempt by lawyer Ronald P. Fischetti to lift the limited gag order imposed on him by the judge who is overseeing the sex abuse case of actor James Barbour, who played the beast in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

Fischetti told a lower court judge the district attorney’s office set up a telephone hot line to receive calls about Barbour and he wanted to do something similar.

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“I want to put up a hot line with her (the victim’s) name on it (and place it) in the newspapers,” Fischetti said. “We believe that this alleged victim has made these false allegations before.”

The court upheld the judge’s decision not to allow it, saying that Fischetti had shown no good faith basis for suggesting the girl had a history of falsely accusing anyone. It said that without such a showing, the policy interest of having sex crimes victims come forward without fear of exposure “outweighs what would amount to a fishing expedition.”

Barbour, 40, pleaded not guilty in December to charges of sexual abuse and criminal sex act against the girl, a fan and aspiring actress, in 2001.

Barbour was starring in “Jane Eyre,” and a high school drama teacher arranged for the girl and her parents to see the musical. The girl, now 20, went backstage alone after the show, and Barbour began touching her sexually, prosecutors said.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)