Gary Busey and Sex Crimes—Brain Trauma Doesn’t Matter?

The Buddy Holly Story actor, Gary Busey | credit: Shutterstock

Gary Busey, star of The Buddy Holly Story, had his appearance cut short at the Monster-Mania Convention in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, earlier this month after being asked to leave by event organizers following complaints about his behavior.

Cherry Hill Police department charged the 78-year-old Malibu, California resident with two counts of criminal sexual contact (in the fourth degree), one count of criminal attempt/criminal sexual contact (again, fourth degree), and one count of harassment. If he is convicted, the actor could face up to 18 months in prison in addition to a fine of up to $10,000. 

The Oscar-nominated actor (Best Actor, 1979) has denied any wrongdoing, saying “nothing happened.”

What Really Happened at the Monster-Mania Con?

According to multiple sources, the actor allegedly touched two female attendees on their buttocks during an autograph and photo-op event.

A third claimed the actor stuck his face near her bosom and asked, “where did you get them?” She also claimed Busey reached behind and tried to unhook her bra.

In a separate allegation, a man claimed the actor grabbed his daughter’s behind. (The alleged victims’ ages are unknown as of publication.)

Charges were filed on Friday after authorities responded to reports of a sexual offense at the N.J. site hosting the horror-film convention. Neither Busey’s management nor any representative from the Doubletree Hotel in Cherry Hill responded to requests for comments.

Gary Busey Removed “Immediately”

A lawyer for Monster-Mania, Nikitas Moustakas, said the organizers were “assisting authorities in their investigations” into last week’s events.

Moustakas said that “the celebrity guest” was removed “immediately upon receiving a complaint.” She emphasized that the “safety and well-being of all our attendees” was of the utmost importance to organizers.

Actor Gary Busey at an unknown event with David Spade and Adam Sandler behind. | Credit: Shutterstock

Busey’s Brain Trauma Omitted From Coverage Of Allegations

Countless articles have been written concerning Busey’s alleged “sex crimes” over the last few days, however an exhaustive search failed to turn up a single mention—in any publication—of Busey’s nearly thirty-five-year-long mental health struggles following a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Busey’s brain trauma is the type of injury that can cause a lack of inhibition and an inability to control or curb impulses.

Did Journalists ‘Forget’ About Actor’s Decades Long Mental Health Struggles?

Busey was involved in a brutal motorcycle accident in 1988 that resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Busey “passed away after brain surgery” but “came back,” as he put it. 

“When Busey appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2008, he was referred to a psychiatrist who evaluated Busey and concluded that his brain injury took a massive toll on his executive control capability – the filtering process a normal brain engages to regulate what we say and do. Busey’s brain trauma damaged this capability, resulting in a loss of control over impulsive thought and behavior.

The truth is that Busey’s behavior is a form of mental illness spawned by brain trauma, and yet we find it hilarious.”

David DiSalvo, Author of “What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite“, Forbes, Apr 13, 2014 @neuronarrative 

NYTimes article did devote an entire sentence in their coverage of the sexual assault allegations against the actor, noting that he had been involved in the accident and suffered “severe head injuries.” However, they too failed to mention his TBI.

He sustained severe head injuries and underwent intensive surgery.

Hurubie Meko, “Gary Busey Faces Sex Charges After Appearance at Film Convention,” New York Times, Aug. 20, 2022

Brain Trauma Leading Cause of Death, Disability In U.S.

According to the CDC, traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death or disability among young adults and children in the U.S. They estimate that 1.5 million Americans will sustain a TBI yearly. Of those afflicted, almost 50,000 will die and close to 100,000 will experience the onset of some form of long-term disability.

Additionally, a recent report from the DOD found over 450,000 cases of TBI in the American military services from 2000 to 2021.

A quick search on Google easily comes up with many references to TBI victims and their difficulties with impulse controlinappropriate behavior, and aggression. These types of behavior changes can even result from mild cases of TBI.

A psychiatrist who examined Busey on the VH1 show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (2008) concluded that his brain trauma damaged his capacity for impulse control and behavior.

Busey explained the extent and effects of his injuries in an interview with Dr. Phil in 2018.

“…going forty miles an hour… without a helmet! And fishtailed the bike… threw me up and over, hit the curb…split my skull, from here to here [indicates an area from his ear to the top of his head] knocked a hole in it about that big [makes a circle with his fingers about the size of a silver dollar]…”

Gary Busey on The Dr. Phil Show, 2018

Another clip from the same episode shows Mr. Busey’s brain specialist explaining how the frontal lobe of his brain (the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and executive function) was badly damaged.

Brain Changes Impact Behaviors

Sexual assault is serious; it demands attention. And those impacted by it deserve support.

But for those living with a structurally differentdysfunctional, or traumatized frontal cortex, it seems their (often invisible) disability is disregarded or minimized. Or, in Busey’s case, openly mocked.

Recently, a 22-year-old Canadian man was charged with sexual assault in St. John’s, Newfoundland, after grabbing a woman in a park and trying to hold on to her. The young man is severely autistic and, as his father, Calvin Flynn, described, “loves to give hugs.” The woman assaulted was uninjured in the July 2022 incident.

Flynn’s son is usually under 24-hour supervision but managed to slip away when his caretakers weren’t watching.

The accused’s father went on to say that he “can understand 100 percent” why the woman was upset at being aggressively accosted by a full-grown male stranger. But, he emphasized that his son doesn’t have the “mental capacity” to comprehend what he was doing, adding “he has no concept of it.”

It’s unlikely Flynn’s son will be convicted in a Canadian court because of his underlying medical condition. The media, however, seems to have no such caveat.

No one seems interested in asking the uncomfortable questions.

If Gary Busey acted inappropriately, was it a result of brain trauma? Is Gary Busey capable of controlling his impulses?

When writing for major, supposedly reputable news publications and intentionally leaving out crucial relevant facts that can alter a story’s narrative, you’re not acting in the story’s best interest. And you’re not a trustworthy, professional journalist.

Or is it simply that integrity doesn’t matter when there’s a celebrity involved?

written by Adam H. Douglas

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