Filmmaker Fred Salaff Still Behind Bars in Panama
“Fred is still behind bars, lacking such essential as a bed, running water, edible food or his medicines,” wrote Salaff’s friend Chris Skeie on website, a website he set up to collect donations to help pay for the filmmaker’s legal defense.
According to Panama’s English-language news website, ThePanamaNews.com, Panamanian police raided Salaff’s home, which was being used as a location for the shoot.
Officials charged Salaff and his corporate entity, Rio Bueno Ltd. SA, with pressuring prostitutes to perform in the production, neglecting to file the proper paperwork to film an adult movie and failing to take adequate measures to prevent minors from being exposed to sexual activity.
According to Skeie, the charges of sexual coercion were dropped when Salaff’s original lawyer, Eugenio Morice, presented signed model releases.
Morice also requested that the government drop charges against Salaff for not having the proper permits in order. He produced a letter from the Ministry of Government and Justice, responding to a petition filed by Salaff inquiring about the legalities of filming adult material in Panama, which stated that the Panamanian government “has not classified adult pornography as a crime” and made no mention of legal requirements for producing adult films. However, the charges still stand.
But it’s the last set of charges, that Salaff failed to adequately shield the shoot from neighborhood children, that seem to be the most complicated. Skeie said Salaff had constructed an 8-foot-tall wall around his property and hired national police officers and private security to keep out curious neighbors, but that children climbed nearby trees to watch the filming, prompting authorities to file moralities charges.
Several crew members were released from prison shortly after the arrest, but Salaff and three European actors languished for the next several weeks in a jail he describes as “an overcrowded sewer.” Frustrated with a lack of action in his case, he fired Morice and, with the help of Skeie and other friends, retained the services of a new lawyer, Fernando Cajar.
Shortly after, Salaff became ill and had to be rushed to a hospital due, where he was found to be suffering from dangerously high blood pressure. However, Salaff was not allowed to stay overnight and was sent instead to a detention center before being returned to prison the following day and remains there still.
No bail has been granted, and it’s not unusual for cases to take as long as three to four years to reach trial in Panamanian courts. As a result, Skeie said he expects lawyers fees to exceed $25,000. Skeie said Salaff is trying to sell his house to cover the brunt of the costs.
To add insult to injury, at least one person has tried to profit from Salaff’s misery by attempting to register a false email address in Salaff’s name to collect donations. To avoid such fraud, Skeie has asked interested parties to submit all donations through website.