LA Weekly: Trapped in Men’s Central Jail

April 21, 2012

Director Duncan Roy casts a courtly image of a baronial figure as he sits in his home atop Las Flores Canyon, a modernist, Bohemian hideaway with a jaw-dropping view of the Pacific. His surroundings project an image of California’s creative lifestyle at its most alluring. But in February, Roy found himself standing alone outside Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail, released after three months of harrowing and wrongful incarceration.

During his ordeal, he learned to dodge angry Los Angeles County Sheriff’s jailers and to trade with fellow prisoners for dried ramen toppings. He was helplessly trapped in a Kafka-esque corner of America’s immigration war, where he disappeared into the bowels of the system without explanation or apparent legal recourse.

In 2006, Roy was an up-and-coming star of the British independent-film community. His first picture, AKA, had received notice and awards around the world, and he followed the well-worn path to Hollywood in search of a bigger canvas — in particular, a film adaptation of The Picture ofDorian Gray, to which he was attached to direct. He purchased the Las Flores house with the help of his then-boyfriend, a Malibu real estate agent who later would be featured on Bravo‘s Million Dollar Listing.

Five years later, the dream had fizzled. The relationship with his partner had ended. TheDorian Gray film hadn’t materialized. Roy even sought counsel from Dr. Drew on his show Sex Rehab, where the director’s outspoken manner made him a reality-TV cause célèbre. A bout with cancer led to the removal of one of Roy’s testicles. With his visa due to expire in December 2011, he prepared a move to his apartment in Berlin.

But in Los Angeles, the most tangled dramas ultimately come back to real estate. Selling the house was proving thorny. Once it was on the market, geological issues arose, dramatically lowering its value. Then, Roy says, he received a middle-of-the-night phone call from someone claiming to be the geologist who had worked on the house’s assessment. He told Roy that he had been pressured to cover up problems in the foundation but, having become a born-again Christian, felt obliged to come clean.

 Read the rest at the LA Weekly
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