THE BLOG
04/23/2006 05:04 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Duke Rape Scandal -- Cashing In on Celebrity Trials

Kim Roberts, the "2nd Dancer" in the Duke rape scandal, is being criticized for trying to cash in on her fifteen minutes of fame, for changing her story to support the accuser and for making a deal that helps her financially.

The defense contends in exchange for Robert's testimony; District Attorney Nifong brokered a deal to lower her bail in an unrelated case. Roberts was recently picked up for violating her probation stemming from a 2001 conviction for embezzling $25,000 from her employer. Roberts' attorney Mark Simeon, said the conditions of her bond were changed because she is not a flight risk.

This accusation exposes an open legal secret -- witnesses make deals all the time. Getting favorable treatment in exchange for testimony is routine.

Roberts also sent this controversial e-mail to a New York PR firm:

"I've found myself in the center of one of the biggest stories in the country. I'm worried about letting this opportunity pass me by without making the best of it and was wondering if you had any advice as to how to spin this to my advantage." Signed, "The 2nd Dancer."

In an AP, interview, she justified her position saying:

"Why shouldn't I profit from it? I didn't ask to be in this position ... I would like to feed my daughter."

The reality is Robert's life will never be the same. Does she have a legitimate worry that she'll have trouble finding a job now that the world knows about her sticky fingers and that she takes her clothes off for a living?

I'm not sure what to make of Ms. Robert's actions except to say that I'm not at all surprised. While she may be the first witness in this case to declare that she intends to profit, she certainly won't be the last.

Who Else Has Cashed In?

Under the glare of the spotlight, Roberts' desire to maximize her opportunity frankly looks bad. Witnesses cash in all the time in celebrity trials -- perhaps not as fast, usually without a paper trail and for money.

I wonder if her main problem is breaking an unwritten celebrity, circus trial rule by getting caught sending a greedy-sounding e-mail far too early in the process? Is profiting from a celebrity trial okay if you wait? Isn't cashing in on a celebrity trial the American way? Why should Roberts or this trial be any different?

The truth is this scandal is good business for the TV, other media outlets and as I pointed out, Duke Lacrosse gear is hot, hot, hot!

Think about other high-profile trials. The reality is lots of witnesses had major baggage they brought to the trials and they went on to cash in on their fifteen minutes of fame.

Kato Kaelin, the gold standard in celebrity legal scandal sidekicks, parlayed his OJ exposure into a radio and TV career with highlights that include hosting the pay-per-view series National Lampoon's Strip Poker and a courtroom show called National Lampoon's Eye For An Eye.

Maybe former NFL player and slow speed chase driver Al Cowlings, could have used more savvy post-trial marketing? After working as a shoe and handbag rep, it sounds like AC might have fallen on lean times since he recently showed up at a horror convention to sign autographs with OJ.

Convicted perjurer and notorious user of the "n-word", Mark Fuhrman, leveraged his OJ fame into a gig as a Fox News analyst, frequently appears on Sean Hannity's radio show and recently wrote a book about Terry Schiavo. According to Newshounds, he's currently commenting on the Duke case.

While Judge Lance Ito didn't personally profit from the trial, he was forever immortalized with Leno's Judge Ito dancers. You can't put a price tag on that.

More recently, single mom and former masseuse Amber Frey, leveraged her Scott Peterson fifteen minutes into a lucrative book deal, and a made for TV movie starring the West Wing's Janel Moloney and if you believe what you read on goodplasticsurgery.com, possibly into breast implants. Why wouldn't the "2nd Dancer" contemplate her financial future will the same cunning? Frey was also able to overcome Larry Flynt's efforts to buy her nude photos in the case. Like Frey's photos, maybe the impact of Roberts' e-mail will fade?

Runaway Bride, Jennifer "Crazy-Eyes" Wilbanks, got a cool half-million advance for her book and a high-profile Katie Couric interview. Remember that Jennifer falsely accused an imaginary mixed raced couple of kidnapping and raping her. Not to be outdone, a toy maker is peddling Runaway Bride dollsfeaturing her trademark perp walk blanket. (They also sell a "You Don't Know Dick" Dick Cheney action figure.)

One of my favorite moments of the Michael Jackson trial was an interview I saw on Larry King Live. Larry was interviewing Jackson's friend and magician, Majestic Magnificent.

Apparently the media got the whole personal magician thing all wrong. Who knew that Majestic really wasn't Jackson's PERSONAL magician?

KING: We're joined now in Santa Maria, California, by one of Michael Jackson's closest friends and confidantes, Majestic Magnificent, who's called Michael's personal magician. What does a personal magician do?

MAJESTIC MAGNIFICENT, MAGICIAN, FRIEND OF JACKSON: That's something the press is labeling on me. I'm not Michael's personal magician. I just happen to be a magician from Muhammad Ali transferred to Michael.


Transferred from Ali to Jackson? Thanks, that really cleared things up!

Who is your favorite celebrity trial supporting character? Where are they now? How did they cash in?