WA woman indicted in Oscar winner's alleged rapes

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by KING5.com Staff and Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 25 at 11:01 AM

Video: Oscar winner accused of raping hopeful starlets

NEW YORK - A Federal Way, Wash. woman has been indicted for allegedly helping set up sexual assaults by an Oscar-winning songwriter-producer-director for whom she works, some of which were arranged on Craigslist.

Shawni Lucier, 42, the personal assistant of songwriter-producer-director Joseph Brooks, is charged with nine misdemeanor counts of criminal facilitation.

The Oscar-winning composer and director behind "You Light Up My Life" raped 11 women he lured to his apartment with the promise of a starring role in a movie, prosecutors said at his arraignment Tuesday.

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The women read an online ad placed by Brooks, applied for the audition "and thought this was their chance to become a big star," prosecutor Lisa Friel said. Instead, once the women were in Brooks' Manhattan apartment, he plied them with wine and forcibly raped them or used threats and coercive behavior to make them have sex with him, prosecutors said.

Brooks, 71, denied the accusations. He pleaded not guilty in Manhattan's state Supreme Court, where he was arraigned on a 91-count indictment charging him with rape, criminal sexual act, sexual abuse, assault and other charges.

The Manhattan District Attorney says the 11 women who were victims of Brooks were lured to his Upper East Side Manhattan apartment under the belief they were auditioning for an acting role. They ranged in ages from 18 to 30 years old.

The indictment says seven of the victims were flown by Brooks to New York.

KING 5 News has learned seven of the victims were from Washington state and two were from Oregon. The others were from California and Florida.

Nine of the victims were responding to ads placed on Craigslist just last year. In the other cases, one alleged rape happened in 2005 when Brooks set up an special audition with the victim. Another rape allegedly occured in 2007 when the victim responded to a talent Web site.

The scheme was enabled by his personal assistant, Shawni Lucier, who helped pick the victims, interviewed them, arranged their travel and made them feel comfortable.

Prosecutors say the victims were forcibly raped, incapacitated or both.

Brooks became a suspect after one woman went to a hospital and reported what had happened and another complained to authorities in February and March 2008, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors believe there could be seven or eight more victims.

Brooks won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in 1978 for Best Original Song for "You Light Up My Life." It's about a comedian who has a one-night stand with a director.

Brooks' attorney, Jeff Hoffman, says "there will be lengthy arguments" during the arraignment.

Justice Charles Solomon set bail at $500,000 bond or $250,000 cash bail and gave Brooks until Thursday to post it. The judge told Brooks not to leave town without letting the court know.

Brooks pleaded not guilty and is expected to post bail Wednesday. If convicted on all charges, he could go to prison for more than 25 years.

Lucier is scheduled to turn herself in Monday. She faces up to a year in prison.

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