Talent manager and child acting coach Robert David Villard was arrested last week on charges of child molestation. According to a Los Angeles Police Department press release, the arrest was the culmination of an LAPD investigation that began last year after a 17-year-old boy reported to the police that Villard had molested him when he was 13. Captain Sharyn Buck, commanding officer of LAPD's juvenile division, confirmed that the boy is a former client of Villard, but Buck said she was not able to comment futher. According to the press release, Villard was arrested on a felony warrant that charged him with nine counts of violating Penal Code Section 288(a) (Lewd Acts With a Child Under 14).
"Because of Villard's contact with young people, investigators believe there may be more victims," stated the press release. Individuals with information regarding Villard are encouraged to contact the Sexually Exploited Child Unit, at (213) 485-2883. A 24-hour toll-free line at the Detective Information Desk is available on weekends and during off-hours, at (877) 529-3855.
Villard pleaded not guilty during his March 3 arraignment. Bail was set at $900,000.
"Mr. Villard is presumed innocent, and he's entitled to his day in court," Roger Jon Diamond, Villard's attorney, told Back Stage West. "The police department of Los Angeles is upset with a victory we had against the police department arising from an earlier case."
According to a March 4 article in the Los Angeles Times, this earlier case occurred in the 1980s, when a jury found Villard guilty of transporting child pornography, and a judge dismissed all charges. Diamond, however, said the Times "inaccurately described" the case. "There were multiple counts, he was acquitted on some.... [T]he count for which the jury said 'guilty' was improper, and the federal district court--the trial judge--set aside that determination and entered a judgment of acquittal," he told BSW. Diamond added that the government appealed the case, but the acquittal was upheld. "[Villard] was totally vindicated by the trial court and the appellate court," he said. "During that case, it was brought out that the LAPD violated his rights while conducting a search at his apartment in Van Nuys. That was very embarrassing to the LAPD."
The Times also reported that, in January, Villard pleaded no contest to a child pornography misdemeanor charge stemming from a November 2001 arrest. Diamond, however, told BSW Villard was not arrested. "We learned that there was a case filed against him by the L.A. City Attorney's Office--again, a case by the LAPD.... He went voluntarily, he wasn't arrested." Diamond said Villard was eventually offered a plea bargain and placed on probation. Diamond added that he believes he would have won the case, had it gone to trial, "but the case was going on for four years, and they offered him such a deal, in terms of inducement, that he finally said, well, if it's just going to be a misdemeanor and no time in custody, he felt it was no longer worth fighting for."
Villard has not posted bail, but Diamond said he filed a motion to reduce the bail. At press time, the motion was scheduled to be heard on March 9. A preliminary hearing is slated for March 15.