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No legal action in ‘Jon & Kate’ child labor probe

No action will be taken provided a portion of the proceeds from the now-canceled reality show are put into a trust fund for the Gosselins' children and child-labor permits are obtained for future filming.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Child-labor permits should have been obtained for the children appearing on the TLC television show "Jon & Kate Plus 8," but the state will not take legal action against the producers, Pennsylvania regulators have concluded.

No action will be taken provided a portion of the proceeds from the now-canceled reality show are put into a trust fund for Jon and Kate Gosselin's children and child-labor permits are obtained for future filming, the state Department of Labor & Industry said in a five-page letter obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

The letter was signed by a government attorney and sent to Figure 8 Films and Discovery Talent Services last month.

"It's important to note that we did an investigation and we made sure the children were not in any danger or endangered as a result of the work they were doing," said Labor & Industry press secretary Troy Thompson.

The agency ruled that the children were employed under the state's Child Labor Law because of the direction they sometimes received, because of their continued participation in the series and because the Gosselins and others were paid for the show.

It said that at least 15 percent of the gross proceeds, due to the children, must be placed in trust funds until they reach the age of 18 or unless needed for their safety, education, welfare or health.

Laurie Goldberg, a spokeswoman for Discovery Talent Services and TLC, said Wednesday the trust was established in November and that the amount placed in trust exceeds the 15 percent level.

Thompson said the new stipulations must be met or labor regulators may prosecute in the future. The letter said that Figure 8 Films, TLC, Discovery Talent Services, the Gosselins and other affiliated parties all deny there were violations of the child-labor law or that permits were required.

Goldberg said Discovery Talent Services and TLC have complied with state labor regulations and continue to do so. She said they agreed to get the permits even though they maintain they are not required under state law.

"These allegations are either completely inaccurate or a distorted representation for maximum attention," she said.

Alisha Agemy with Figure 8 Films declined comment.

Also Wednesday, Kate Gosselin's brother Kevin Kreider testified at a legislative hearing on the state's child-labor laws and how they apply to TV and movie production. He discussed his concerns about potential psychological damage to children on TV shows, including a lack of adult supervision and financial security.

Rep. John Evans, a Republican from Erie, questioned whether the Gosselins received special treatment by the state because of the connection to the entertainment industry.

Robert O'Brien, deputy secretary for state's Safety & Labor Department, said the state did all it could under Pennsylvania's child-labor laws.

Thompson said the agency has begun to draft revised regulations to address issues raised by television and Internet entertainment production.

"Any time you have something on a national level like we have here, it shows the importance of having some very clear and defined regulations," Thompson said.

Before it was canceled last year, "Jon & Kate Plus 8" documented the lives of the couple and their eight children at their Pennsylvania home.

The Gosselins are now divorced, and Kate Gosselin has custody of the children. She currently appears on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and has a new reality show in the works.