Actor Elijah Wood has lashed out against what he has branded a cabal of "paedophile vipers" among Hollywood's powerful men, who prey on naive and vulnerable young children seeking careers in the TV and film industries.
Wood, who himself became an actor at the age of 8, said his protective mother saved him from the fate that awaits so many child actors at the hands of manipulative bigwigs. who use the lure of an important role to get close enough to abuse children.
Wood, who famously played Frodo Baggins in box office smash hit series, Lord of the Rings, compared the situation to the prolific sexual abuse perpetrated by BBC TV host Jimmy Savile.
Wood said his mother, Debra, kept him out of most risky situations so that he "never went to parties where that kind of thing was going on," but said that other child actors were regularly "preyed upon" by "vipers" in Hollywood.
"There are a lot of vipers in this industry — people who only have their own interests in mind," Wood, 35, told the Sunday Times. "There is darkness in the underbelly. If you can imagine it, it's probably happened."
The crimes remain hidden, he said, because victims "can't speak as loudly as people in power. That's the tragedy of attempting to reveal what is happening to innocent people," he added. "They can be squashed, but their lives have been irreparably damaged."
In 2012 the actor Corey Feldman - who starred in The Lost Boys and Stand By Me - spoke out in an autobiography about the threat he felt in the 1980s, saying he was "surrounded" by abusers when he was a teen actor in Hollywood, with some 15 older men "leching around like vultures."
Feldman said he and other boys were groomed to believe that sex forced on them by adults was normal. "The number 1 problem in Hollywood was and is — and always will be — paedophilia," Feldman stressed.
Feldman said he told people, including police, that he was abused but no one took action to protect him or to pursue the accused parties.
In a painful scene in the former reality show The Two Coreys, Corey Haim attacked his Lost Boys co-star Feldman for not helping him when he was abused by an older man when he was 14. Feldman responded that he was going through the same experiences at the time.
Haim died in 2010 at the age of 38 after years battling drug addictions.
The Sunday Times piece also included an interview with Anne Henry, co-founder of the BizParentz Foundation, an organization established to protect child actors. She said the groups estimates that about 75% of the child actors who "went off the rails" with things like drug addiction or suicides had been abused.
"We believe Hollywood is currently sheltering about 100 active abusers," said Henry.