Actress Pamela Guest has been on a one-woman crusade against sexual assault in the entertainment industry for more than 40 years. It started, she says, after she was raped in the early 1970s by Oscar-winning songwriter Joseph Brooks while auditioning for what she thought would be a role in one of his movies.

A newly elected member of the national and local boards of SAG-AFTRA, Guest is continuing that quest, and has posted an account of her ordeal – and her decades-long battle for justice and healing – on the website of Membership First, the union’s “loyal opposition.” Read it below.

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One of her first acts on the local board was to propose a Sexual Harassment Task Force, which passed unanimously last month. “I was given the mandate to spearhead the effort,” she wrote. “There was much discussion as to whether it would be under a national or local committee. So far its status is unknown. I heard a rumor that the LA Local Women’s Committee put me on a task force or commission that they’re forming, but I’ve heard nothing official.”

Two weeks after the local board approved her motion to establish a task force, however, SAG-AFTRA announced that it had launched a President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Safety to evaluate and address workplace safety issues on film and TV productions.

Guest told Deadline she’s heard that this Blue Ribbon Commission now is going to address not only safety issues but issues of sexual harassment and abuse as well. But she said she thinks “sexual harassment is a big enough issue to deserve its own task force.”

The union confirmed tonight what Guest had heard; it will be folded into the Blue Ribbon Commission on Safety, chaired by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris, that the national board approved in October.

A spokesperson for the union said tonight, “The SAG-AFTRA Sexual Harassment Work Group is a subcommittee of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Safety and was created by Gabrielle as chair shortly after our public statement on harassment.”

On October 13, Carteris declared that “our union has a zero tolerance policy against harassment of its members and others employed under our collective bargaining agreements” – even though the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces workplace anti-discrimination and sexual harassment laws, cautions against adopting “zero tolerance” policies regarding sexual harassment, finding that “the term ‘zero tolerance’ is misleading and potentially counterproductive. Accountability requires that discipline for harassment be proportionate to the offensiveness of the conduct.”

“Now you might ask,” Guest wrote in the post, “how a newly elected SAG-AFTRA board member was so bold as to find herself making a motion to form a SAG-AFTRA Sexual Harassment Task Force. The story involves my personal #MeToo story, a film and an Oscar winning composer.”

The composer was Brooks, who won the 1978 Oscar for Best Music and Original Song for the title tune from You Light Up My Life. Police said Brooks committed suicide in 2011 while awaiting trial on charges of drugging and raping numerous actresses who, like Guest, had been led to believe that he was auditioning them for roles in his movies. He was indicted in June 2009 in Manhattan and faced more than 90 counts of rape, sexual abuse assault and other charges.

Guest, however, never was listed in police records as one of his victims. She says he had given her a fake name during her “audition,” and she only came to realize his true identity many years later.

Here is the full text of Guest’s post: 

During last month’s November 16th, 2017 SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles Local Board meeting the motion I made to form a Sexual Harassment Task Force (SHTF) within the union–separate from the SAG-AFTRA President’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Safety–passed unanimously. I was given the mandate to spearhead the effort. There was much discussion as to whether the SHTF would be under a national or local committee. So far its status is unknown. I heard a rumor that the LA Local Women’s Committee put me on a task force or commission that they’re forming, but I’ve heard nothing official.

Now you might ask how a newly elected SAG-AFTRA board member was so bold as to find herself making a motion to form a SAG-AFTRA Sexual Harassment Task Force. The story involves my personal #MeToo story, a film and an Oscar winning composer.

In 2013, I was randomly led to read an online article about the brother of an acting colleague who was on trial in New York for allegedly killing his girlfriend.  You don’t hear that kind of thing everyday so imagine my surprise when I googled him and up came the article “The Curious Case of Joseph and Nicholas Brooks”. Joseph was the Oscar-winning composer of the song “You Light Up My Life” (and director of the film). Joseph’s son, Nicholas is the now-convicted murderer.  …

Reading for the first time about them, I learned that Joseph Brooks committed suicide in 2011 while awaiting trial on 120 counts of alleged sexual assault of young actresses in New York City.  Reading this article dredged up from deep within me the long-hidden memory of the rape I endured as a college student at what I thought was my first professional audition.  As I read I recognized my assailant as Joseph Brooks who I knew by another name in the early 70’s at that fateful audition in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was damaged, unhinged, destroyed by this encounter. I told my boyfriend and my two best friends after it happened. At no time did they suggest I report the event to the authorities. I suppose they were trying to protect me from further abuse at the hands of the unsympathetic legal system, which still exists in this country. I was too ashamed to even mention it in the years I spent in therapy off and on. I never thought about what had happened, but as I grew older continuing on in this business I found myself terrified and shaking after and during an audition for a television show produced by a most sympathetic family friend, but before a roomful of men. I became aware I had a problem.

So when I read the article, I immediately sprang into action. I wanted to finally fight back and lift the burden of shame I’d imposed on myself. I sought legal advice from my college boyfriend, now an attorney in Tennessee.  I met with the Manhattan Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted Brooks in hopes of connecting to his other victims to heal and perhaps take legal action together. She’s currently working on the Weinstein accusations in New York. I gave an interview to the NY Times, which was later sensationalized in the Daily Mail over the Internet.  Most of what was printed wasn’t quite what I said which was traumatic again for me. Some members of my theater company turned their backs on me for speaking out.

I learned more than anyone would want to know about our legal system and victims’ rights. I dove into researching NDA’s and learned how SOL’s are different in every state. I learned the value of talking about what happened.  I found that after keeping this secret for so long the only way to free myself from its grip was to share my story. Speaking out was difficult and I never would have done it if I didn’t HAVE to.  I still do.

I met Gloria Allred at a luncheon and pleaded with her to take my case. She didn’t. I learned I had to file in Michigan where it happened.  I could file because Brooks had given me a phony name so my Statute of Limitations (SOL) had two years before it ran out.  The brother of one of my college friends took my case pro bono and we filed a lawsuit in Ann Arbor.  I wanted to be heard. I wanted to fight back. It was time to heal.  I so deeply wanted someone to acknowledge that I’d been seriously harmed. My career as an actress had been severely disrupted by this horrific event.

In 1981 I was directed by John Cassavetes in an Equity waiver production of a play with Gena Rowlands and Martin Landau playing my parents. John told anyone who would listen that I was “THE actress of my generation.”  But I didn’t know or believe it. I had lost faith in myself.  After all, how could I, a smart scholarship student at the University of Michigan have gotten myself into such a vulnerable, at-risk situation? It must have been my fault. I must have done something wrong. Instead of really continuing to seek acting work, I had an unhappy but successful career as a casting director, safe behind my desk.

But then in 2013, the most miraculous thing occurred. After I started speaking out and fighting back, I started to work as an actress.  A friend cast me as the lead in his movie and I won several awards for my work. I finally passed my audition for the Actors Studio where I am now a Lifetime Member.  My one tiny scene in a new sitcom became the promo for the whole series and that episode was seen by all the Emmy voters.

The lawsuit dragged on and on, never going to court as the Brooks’ estate tried one delay after another. At least two other victims had won judgments against him and I was being pressured to walk away.  I couldn’t or I would have.  I began paying another attorney who knew about the music business and the disposition of Brooks’ royalties. I was called a liar, an imposter, crazy and worse but still I hung in there for dear life. Why? Because I had to.

While all this was going on, my daughter Liz, a USC film school grad and a fine actress in her own right, suggested we make a short film about what happened based on the rape scene I had written for an acting class as a healing exercise.  I had submitted that scene on a lark to the 2016 Amsterdam Film Festival and won second place.  We shot the film in August 2016 with my daughter playing me. As I stood behind the monitor watching her go through my experience, my own healing took a gigantic leap. With tears streaming down my face, I finally knew that what happened to me was not my fault. With that knowledge, I decided to settle the lawsuit on equal footing with the other women, with no NDA or gag order, because I needed to tell my story freely and widely. And of course there’s been no acknowledgement by the estate of his guilt.

A casting director friend who’d seen our film “the first of many” credited it with starting this #MeToo revolution within our industry.  The film qualified for Academy Award consideration and has been playing for Academy members since September.  Sadly it didn’t make the shortlist so you won’t be seeing us at the Oscars, but our hope is that by telling my story we will encourage others to tell theirs and heal.  My life, which I always thought would be as an actress, has now become all about advocating for victims/survivors. I am an official speaker with RAINN’s Speakers Bureau and was invited to work with V-Day, Eve Ensler and Jane Fonda’s global organization to end violence against women. Thus my interest in SAG-AFTRA having a dedicated Sexual Harassment Task Force to lift the lid off this insidious part of our culture, to find new strategies for prevention and to give victims a forum in which to heal.