Mel Gibson Seeks 'Path For Healing'

In this booking photo released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, actor-director Mel Gibson is seen in a booking photo taken Friday, July 28, 2006.
AP Photo/LA County Sheriffs Dept.
Mel Gibson acknowledged making anti-Semitic slurs during a drunken driving arrest and begged Jewish community leaders Tuesday to meet with him to find "the appropriate path for healing." A sheriff's watchdog, meanwhile, said deputies appeared to have handled Gibson's arrest properly.

It was the actor's second apology since sheriff's deputies stopped him for speeding early Friday on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, where officials said he was doing 87 in a 45 mph zone. He was arrested for investigation of drunken driving after a hostile, offensive confrontation with deputies.

The latest apology went far beyond the first — which spoke primarily to deputies- by addressing Jewish groups directly.

"I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words," Gibson said in a statement issued by his publicist Tuesday. "Please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.

"There will be many in that (Jewish) community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable," he added. "But I pray that that door is not forever closed."

Jewish groups had mixed reactions to the apology but most said they wanted to see proof of Gibson's repentance before meeting with him.

"We always felt that there was another agenda, but we never called him an anti-Semite. I guess this moment in Malibu finished the circle, and so now it all comes together," said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "But I'd like to put it behind him, I hope he wants to put it behind him, but you need to work at it. You can't just say I'm no longer a drunk; you can't just say I'm no longer a bigot. You need to work hard at it, and we're ready to help him."

County prosecutors were reviewing the sheriff's report Tuesday to decide what charges, if any, would be filed against Gibson.

A civilian watchdog attorney, investigating allegations of a cover-up by the Sheriff's Department, said a preliminary review found nothing wrong with the handling of Gibson's arrest.

"In this case, the information reviewed to date indicates that LASD did ensure that the arrest of Mr. Gibson was handled in accord with its policies and practices," said Michael Gennaco, head of the county Office of Independent Review.

2According to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the sheriff's report says Gibson told the arresting deputy: "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked him, "Are you a Jew?"

Gibson's publicist, Alan Nierob, said Tuesday the actor was in ongoing program for alcohol abuse before his arrest and had entered a new program since his arrest Friday. Both were described as outpatient programs.

As a public person, "when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena," Gibson's latest statement said.

ABC announced late Monday that it had scrapped plans for Gibson to produce a miniseries on the Holocaust, saying it had not seen even the draft of a script in nearly two years.

Experts say that Gibson and his public relations team face serious challenges if they want to restore the actor's image.

"I can't remember an incident that is as jaw-droppingly grotesque for a career as this one," Hollywood media expert Michael Levine said on CBS News' The Early Show.

"I don't think I want to see any more Mel Gibson movies," Barbara Walters said Monday on the ABC talk show "The View."

Gibson's arrest and his anti-Semitic comments have been fodder for the blogging community — some signaling this as the end of his career, others questioning his Christianity, but most thinking his apology isn't worth much at all.