A man who donated big bucks to promote a movie about child trafficking has now been arrested for child kidnapping himself. Fabian Marta, 51, was taken into custody in St. Louis, Missouri on July 21 for allegedly abducting a child under the age of 14, though his lawyer says he’ll plead not guilty.
Here’s some background on the case.
- “The Sound of Freedom” was released on July 4. The movie grossed over $150 million due to grassroots efforts like a pay-it-forward ticket promotion and religious and right-wing groups buying huge blocks of tickets for their members to attend.
- Anti-trafficking groups weren’t convinced that the movie was actually helping. In fact, they called out the tone of the movie as well as the star, Jim Caviezel, who’s a conspiracy theorist nut you might remember from “The Passion of the Christ.” The organizations also accused “Sound of Freedom” of using some pretty sketchy material when they wrote the script, per Rolling Stone.
- Fabian Marta donated a considerable chunk of change to get the child trafficking movie out there. While his attorney, Scott Rosenblum, says he’s “baffled’ by the class A felony his client is facing, he believes they can beat the charges “fairly easily.” He added: “It’s very hard for me to connect the dots, and I don’t really know how they’re proceeding.”
- Marta was very outspoken about the importance of “The Sound of Freedom.” He also bragged about the role he played in getting it out to a wider audience. “The Sound of Freedom movie tackles a very tough subject,” he wrote on his page, according to Twitter screenshots. “I’m proud to have been a small part of it. If you see the movie look for ‘Fabian Marta and Family’ at the very end of the credits.”
- The movie was almost never released. While it was finished in 2018 under a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox, it was eventually dropped and then picked up again by Angel Studios, a Christian film production company that often relies on crowdfunding to get its projects released. They ended up raising $5 million for marketing, and Marta was a big donor. As such, he was offered up to 120% return on movie profits.
- Angel Studios co-founder Jeffrey Harmon thinks that having Fabian Marta arrested for child trafficking is NBD. As he wrote on Twitter, “Someone had to do some serious homework to find one random dude isn’t a good guy.” He later added, “Seriously, who sorted through 6,600 names of random people who put a few hundred dollars into P&A funding and cross-checked it with local judicial databases?” In the end, he brushed off the charges against Marta as “nothingburger.”
- They’re trying to downplay just how much money Marta gave. They claimed that thousands of people donated to P&A costs for “The Sound of Freedom” so Marta wasn’t really important. Harmon’s brother Neal Harmon, who’s CEO of Angel Studios, said in a statement: “Angel Studios adhered to the requirements of federal and state laws and regulations in allowing 6,678 people to invest an average of $501 each into the launch of Sound of Freedom. One of the perks of investing was the ability to be listed in the credits.”
- Fabian Marta was released on $15,000 bond. That relatively low amount was enough for many fans of “The Sound of Freedom” to downplay the charges against him. By their measure, if Marta’s crimes were very serious, the bond would have been set much higher. Marta is due back in court at the end of August.
There are 6600+ investors in the public P&A crowdfunding round. Someone had to do some serious homework to find one random dude isn’t a good guy. https://t.co/8pKB908eft
— Jeffrey Harmon (@JeffreyHarmon) August 4, 2023