Prosecutors want to add charges against composer

December 2, 2009 7:25:56 AM PST
Prosecutors want to boost sexual assault charges against the Academy Award-winning songwriter behind "You Light Up My Life," who already is accused of 11 casting-couch rapes.

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Maxine Rosenthal said Tuesday prosecutors would ask a grand jury to add to the charges against Joseph Brooks, in part because of "additional victims." Meanwhile, a judge said the current charges alone would require three separate trials.

Prosecutors wouldn't provide more details, but they previously suggested there might be as many as eight more victims beyond those Brooks already is accused of molesting.

Brooks has pleaded not guilty to rape, sexual abuse and other charges. He's accused of luring most of the women to his Manhattan apartment through an online ad offering auditions for a movie role, then sexually assaulting them after making them drink apparently drugged wine as part of an "acting exercise."

Brooks - who won the Academy Award for best original song for the 1977 Debby Boone ballad "You Light Up My Life" and directed a related movie - would wow the women with his Hollywood credentials, making a point of showing them his Oscar, prosecutors say.

With the gaunt, 71-year-old Brooks looking on, a judge said Tuesday that two of the alleged incidents don't fit the pattern or timeframe of the other nine, requiring separate trials for the two.

Prosecutors say those two happened in 2005 and 2007 and all the others in a roughly monthlong span in spring 2008, shortly before Brooks suffered a stroke.

Defense lawyer Jeffrey Hoffman wanted to separate all 11 cases. He said in court papers that hearing the series of allegations could make a jury think Brooks "had a propensity to commit the alleged crimes."

Rosenthal said prosecutors plan to ask a grand jury this month not only to consider additional victims but to add a charge of predatory sexual assault. It can be used when people are accused of committing at least two sexual assaults, among other circumstances.

Hoffman called the prospect of adding to the charges "bizarre," noting that the ailing Brooks already faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Meanwhile, Brooks is entangled in an unrelated legal dispute with his former fiancee, a woman in her 20s he started dating after his stroke. He says in a lawsuit that she hid the fact that she was already married, and he's seeking to get back a $550,000 bank account, a $60,000 engagement ring and other expensive presents he says he gave her.


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