Robert Downey Jr. is being sued over his investigative podcast series, by a man claiming the actor “abused” him by using the contents of his book without permission.
According to legal documents, obtained by The Blast, Paul Morantz filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Court against the ‘Ironman’ star for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and “elder abuse.” Morantz is reportedly an attorney and investigative journalist known for taking legal cases alleging brainwashing by cults. He is considered an expert on the subject.
In the filing, Morantz says he wrote a book about the drug rehabilitation institution — Synanon — which started as a program for rehabilitating drug addicts, but famously declared itself a religion and “centered on middle-class searching for utopia rather than addict curing.” In the 1970’s Morantz reportedly warned the government and authorities about Synanon’s founder — Charles Dederich — saying it was a dangerous cult.
Man Claims Robert Downey Jr Took His Life Story For New Podcast Series
Shockingly, Morantz claims that followers of the group attempted to kill him after he was bitten by a rattlesnake that had been placed in the mailbox of his Pacific Palisades home. Three weeks earlier, as a lawyer, Morantz had won a $300,000 judgment against Synanon on behalf of a married couple who claimed the wife had been held captive by the cult in order to brainwash her into the group.
Now, Morantz says Rober Downey Jr. and his production company are doing a podcast series — The Sunshine Place — based on his life, using his books, but without having a deal with him.
Back in 2021, the 77-year-old claims he was “contacted by one of Downey’s employees about (his) book, “Synanon: From Miracle To Madness.” He claims the person “asked for a digital copy so he could use it as an investigative tool and he was so provided under the agreement they would not go forward unless a deal was struck.” The producer was also “given Synanon documents that he was not to use if a deal was not made for the rights to his book and the documents.”
Cult Fighting Lawyer Suing Robert Downey For ‘Elder Abuse’
According to the suit, Morantz claims Downey’s people had access to his second book, entitled “Synanon: Escape: My Lifelong War Against Cults.”
At the time, he says a negotiation was started for the rights, but the offer made was “rejected.” So, a tentative deal was made with someone else, but it’s now in jeopardy due to Downey’s announcement of his series.
As for the elder abuse, Paul says he is 77 years old and “very ill.” The lawsuit claims, “Financial abuse of a person of a person this age and condition qualifies as elder abuse which entitles (him) to damages for emotional distress in an amount o be proven court.”
Robert Downey Jr. is reportedly executive producing the series, entitled ‘The Sunshine Place’ — an investigative podcast series about Synanon. The series is billed as telling the story of “Synanon — and its messianic founder Charles E. Dederich — through the recollections of members, survivors, and dedicated chroniclers. The series is narrated by Sari Crawford, daughter of a former Synanon leader, Bill Crawford.
“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,” Robert Downey Jr. said in a statement about the series. Adding, “We felt this was a strangely relevant and twisted cautionary tale that had to be told about the incredible lengths people will go to seek out answers and the more dangerous ones others will provide.”
It is unclear how much, if any, of Morantzs’ information or book was used in the creation of Downey’s project.
So far, he has not commented on the lawsuit.