There's an old saying, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Rod Serling might say, "Case in point, Enrico Caruso taking a tour of New York's Central Park."
On November 21, 1906 the world's greatest tenor, Enrico Caruso, found himself facing charges of being a public nuisance in Gotham City. Caruso was on a tour of American cities that year. In April the tenor had been in San Francisco just in time to be a participant in the virtual destruction of that city in the earthquake of April 18th, and the great fires that followed. Caruso was spending a pleasant fall in New York, apparently visiting the zoological garden in Central Park between performances when he began to annoy the local women. The details of the "hateful indignities" he thrust upon two yours women were not printed in the papers, but given Caruso's cultural heritage, this writer's guess is that the annoyances involved the pinching of unsuspecting women's derrieres combined with significantly rude remarks. (See copy of article from the San Francisco Call November 24, 1906 to the left.)
Caruso did not deny inflicting the indignities, except when explaining his appearance in court to his father. Caruso's victims did not attend the hearing, as they were well aware of the lack of sympathy and general disdain they would receive at the hands of the New York crowds. Hannah Graham, one of the victims, had no illusions of the difficulty of making her word stick against an international superstar, while running a gauntlet of fellow New Yorkers who she categorized as "perverts." It almost sounds like debate talking points in the current presidential election cycle. Caruso's day in court is all too familiar a tale when male celebrities are caught acting badly and the fans become the paladins of their idols. Caruso went on to finish his celebrated tour and received international accolades for his singing skill.
Caruso's lawyers made a big deal about how the decision against their client would not stand appeal. They claimed the charges were ginned up by the police. In December 1906 the decision of the court was upheld, making Caruso liable to pay the fine of $10.00.