Tapes of Mel Gibson ranting at girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva have pretty much proven once and for all that the once Hollywood golden boy is an ass of epic proportions.
So why is Grigorieva, the victim of alleged physical and verbal abuse, the one in trouble?
For catching his abuse on tape.
California is a state that requires both parties in a conversation be aware they are being taped, and based on the vitriol (not even his words repeated by kittens can soften the blow of him calling Oksana a see you next Tuesday . . . repeatedly) it's safe to assume Mel didn't know he was being taped.
Which sounds an awful lot like a Catch 22 -- the tapes show a crime being committed (harassment), but the criminal is being protected?
Famous lawyer Gloria Alred told Fox News Oksana should be in the clear precisely because they're evidence of a crime.
Domestic violence experts stress the importance of collecting evidence against your abuser.
"[Police] can arrest your abuser when they have enough proof that you have been abused," according to the folks at DomesticViolence.org.
They suggest the following:
- When the police come, tell them everything the abuser did that made you call.
- If you have been hit, tell the police where. Tell them how many times it happened. Show them any marks left on your body. Marks may take time to show up. If you see a mark after the police leave, call the police to take pictures of the marks. They may be used in court.
- If your abuser has broken any property, show the police. The police can give you information on domestic violence programs and shelters.
- The police must make a report saying what happened to you. Police reports can be used in court if your abuser is charged with a crime. Get the officers' names, badge numbers, and the report number in case you need a copy of the report. A police report can be used to help you get a personal protection order.
Harassing phone calls are considered a typical sign of an abusive relationship, but you have to know your state laws before you tape. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has a handy guide that reveals what states allow for tapes to be made without the abuser's consent.
In the Mel and Oksana case, the guide reveals:
"Eavesdropping upon or recording a conversation, whether by telephone or face-to-face, when a person would reasonably expect their conversation to be confined to the parties present, carries the same penalty as intercepting telephone or wire communications."
What's more, the penalties are pretty hefty, especially considering there have been multiple tapes leaked:
"A first offense of eavesdropping is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and imprisonment for no more than one year. Subsequent offenses carry a maximum fine of $10,000 and jail sentence of up to one year. Intercepting, recording, and disclosing information each carries a separate penalty."
It's easy to side with the victim out of sympathy, but the law seems solid.
Image via Made in Hollywood/Flickr