Robert Downey Jr. Sued For Alleged Elder Abuse

Robert Downey Jr. is being sued over his podcast The Sunshine Place by the author of a book on the subject, who claims financial elder abuse.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Robert Downey Jr. is being sued by a man who claims the actor used parts of his book for an investigative podcast series without permission. Paul Morantz, the alleged victim, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Court citing copyright infringement, breach of contract, and elder abuse. The 77-year-old says he was contacted by the Marvel alum’s team about his book which focuses on the Synanon drug rehabilitation institution before it turned into a religion and cult.

Morantz also claimed that Robert Downey Jr.’s podcast, The Sunshine Place, is based on his life and written work – although the actor never secured a deal to do so. According to the lawsuit (via RadarOnline), the man was contacted by one of the Avengers star’s employees requesting a digital copy of Synanon: From Miracle to Madness so he could use it as an investigative tool. He was provided with the book at the center of the dispute after allegedly agreeing that a deal would be struck before the podcast went forward.

Robert Downey Jr.’s employee was also given documents about Synanon that he was not allowed use unless a deal was made for the rights to the book and the paperwork. Although negotiations for the rights to Morantz’s works began in 2021, he rejected the offer and made a separate tentative deal with another interested party. The 77-year-old is now accusing the Academy Award nominee of elder abuse because he is allegedly “very ill” and “financial abuse of a person of this age and condition qualifies as abuse” which entitles him to damages for emotional distress in an amount to be proven in court.

Robert Downey Jr’s The Sunshine Place is an investigative podcast about the California-based experimental drug rehab facility and community that turned into a dangerous and violent cult led by Charles E. Diedrich. The series tells the story of Synanon from the inside out, by the people who lived it, charting its rise and exploring its decade-long reign over the 1960s and ‘70s counterculture through the recollections of members, survivors, and dedicated chroniclers, Deadline reports.

The series is narrated by Sari Crawford, daughter of a former Synanon leader Bill Crawford. Speaking about his new venture, Robert Downey Jr. said, “While we were familiar with Synanon, it wasn’t until we heard the deeply personal stories that we could truly appreciate its epic rise and fall.” He added that it was a strangely relevant and twisted cautionary tale that had to be told about the incredible lengths people will go to find answers. And the more dangerous ones others will provide.

The Sunshine Place premiered on August 10th and is set to run every week until September 21st. It remains to be seen if Robert Downey Jr., who serves as an executive producer alongside his wife, will pull the series as a result of the filed lawsuit. For now, the actor and his team have not commented on Morantz’s claims. And it’s unclear how much (if any) of the 77-year-old’s information or book was used in the creation of the show.