THE BLOG
03/25/2011 12:43 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Is There Sexism in Celebrity Justice?

It's a man's world. That was the mantra of a generation and women have fought for decades to reverse inequalities in the workplace and society. But when you examine recent celebrity crimes and see how punishments have been meted out, women may begin to think they have actually gained little ground.

When Chris Brown went ballistic in his dressing room following an appearance on Good Morning America, he walked away Scott free. He not only escaped a potential probation violation for his felony assault conviction, the police were not even called. A similar result occurred when Charlie Sheen reportedly trashed his room at New York's Plaza Hotel during a recent stay, after he claimed his paid escort stole his $165.000 watch. The police gave Sheen a choice when they arrived -- he could go to the hospital or be taken to the station. He chose the hospital. He was also on probation at the time for an assault charge. Again -- there were no consequences.

In fact, neither Brown nor Sheen did any jail time for the crimes for they were each convicted. Brown copped a plea after he hit (or based on a published police photo, beat) his then girlfriend, singer Rihanna the night before the 2009 Grammys. Sheen took a plea deal in Aspen, Colorado for assaulting his then wife Brooke Mueller, on Christmas Day of '09. Most recently, Mel Gibson made a similar deal with prosecutors in his criminal case. He pled no contest to assaulting his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. What makes each of these criminal matters even more striking (pun intended) is they all involve violence against women.

Lindsay Lohan must be scratching her head in bewilderment. How she can be facing six months in jail for a probation violation on her DUI convictions plus an additional three years in prison for grand theft, when each of these men essentially walked after committing a violent crime? Lindsay allegedly stole a necklace from a Venice, California jewelry store. That case, which is expected to go before a jury is hardly open and shut. Prior to her court hearing, the storeowner sold the surveillance tape for a reported $40,000 and apparently also tried shopping a book deal over the incident. Lindsay claims it was a misunderstanding over whether or not the jewelry was loaned to her. Lindsay has already served time behind bars. Last year she spent 13 days of a 90-day sentence in solitary confinement for a violating her probation in her DUI cases. The violation? She failed to attend all the required alcohol education classes.

And consider the punishment given to Paris Hilton. In 2006, she was arrested on suspicion of DUI and pled no contest to reckless driving. She was given 36 months probation and her license was suspended. When she was stopped twice more for driving with a suspended license she was sentenced to 45 days in jail. After 3 days in custody, the LA County Sheriff reassigned her to home confinement with electronic monitoring, but the judge hauled her into court and sent her back to jail. She stayed there for another two and a half weeks. Even the Sheriff acknowledged that Hilton served more time than the average person would for the same crime.

Do these five cases represent a trend or signal greater inequities in the way justice is dispensed for men and women? Probably not. After all, these are each independent criminal matters and none is related to the other. Right? (Most legal experts agree that Gibson was all but guaranteed to serve no jail time because none was imposed in Brown's more serious case in the same L.A. County court system.) Still, on first blush the pattern appears disturbing. So, while little girls may dream of becoming a star and get treated like a princess, in the world of celebrities, it still looks like its good to be king.