Charges that casting associate hid sex offender past are dropped
The case against a Hollywood casting associate accused of concealing his sex offender status with an alias has been dismissed by a Superior Court judge, who found that the man consistently provided his real name to his studio employers.
Jason James Murphy, who was convicted of the 1996 kidnapping of an 8-year-old boy, had been working in the entertainment industry under the professional name Jason James. He helped cast young actors in such films as "Super 8" and "The Three Stooges," by filmmakers who said they were unaware of Murphy's past when they used his services.
Murphy was arrested in December after a Times report and charged with failing to comply with a part of the sex offender law that requires registrants to inform authorities of any name change within five days.
Judge Elden Fox expressed concern that parents of young actors who auditioned with Murphy could not find the name he used on his resume, emails and voicemail if they searched the California Megan's Law sex-offender registry. (Full details can be found at LA Now.)
"I think parents who may be involved in this particular business … probably should be aware of the fact that he is" a registered sex offender, the judge said.
However, Murphy provided his legal name on payroll sheets and tax forms with his employers, making his criminal history available to those who check. "There was nothing the defendant did in this case to prevent that information from becoming public," Fox said.
Casting directors who hired Murphy said they were unaware of his sex offender status.
In testimony, Murphy said he had used an abbreviated version of his legal name, Jason James, on movie productions before his 1996 crime and continued to do so after his release from prison with the aim of building a body of professional work under a single credit.
"I wasn't hiding it," he said.
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski
Photo of Jason James Murphy, who spent five years in prison for kidnapping and molesting an 8-year-old boy in Washington 15 years ago. Credit: Washington Corrections Department