Oxygen's 'Abuse of Power' features Fred Tokars, Sidney Dorsey murder cases

Posted Wedesday, May 9, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The Oxygen network was working on a true crime show last fall called "Abuse of Power" focused on cases where powerful men take advantage of others, frequently with deadly results. It happened to coincide with revelations of sexual harassment by movie producer mogul Harvey Weinstein that helped spawn the #MeToo movement.

"We are seeing something happening culturally where victims of people who abuse power are gaining courage and strength and speaking out and making them accountable for their actions," said "Abuse of Power" executive producer Kim Woodard, who works for production company Lucky 8.

Two of the six episodes this first season happen to be out of Atlanta: the Fred Tokars murder case from 1992 and the 2000 Sidney Dorsey-directed murder of DeKalb County Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown.

The premiere this Saturday focuses on Tokars, a high-profile Marietta attorney who hired a hit man to kill his wife Sara in front of their two young sons. Why? Tokars was worried his wife would reveal his double life as a man who represented drug dealers and helped them incorporate businesses that hid their earnings. "Abuse of Power" explores the case that was the talk of Atlanta in the early 1990s.

"Abuse of Power" talked to his now adult sons, who are no longer in touch with him. "It was really about honoring their mother," Woodard said. "The last thing she did was take steps to speak up and confront her husband. She did this to protect them. She could have gone along and turned a blind eye."

RELATED: Read more about Fred  Tokars in this 2016 article

DeKalb County Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown, left, was murdered at the direction of Sidney Dorsey, the outgoing sheriff, in 2000. Photo: AJC file photos

The final episode will focus on Dorsey's murder-for-hire of Brown, his political rival trying to clean up corruption in the Dekalb County's sheriff's office "We follow this case through the eyes of Derwin Brown's daughter Brandy," Woodard said. "It's such a moving interview. I don't know if she has ever shared her story like this before."

Dorsey at first denied he was involved but eventually admitted his involvement in the crime.

RELATED: Read more on the Dorsey/Brown case here

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - MAY 02: Actress Lauren Sivan attends NBCUniversal's Summer Press Day 2018 at The Universal Studios Backlot on May 2, 2018 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The host of the show Lauren Sivan, who has been an actress and broadcast anchor, was selected in part because she was one of Weinstein's accusers.

"When I was approached, it was right int he middle of this #MeToo maelstrom," Sivan said. "I leapt at the chance. It's so important to talk about abuse of power. It happens in all walks of life, not just Hollywood. The show highlights doctors, lawyers, a religious leader, a sheriff. In each case, there is some justice that is finally won for many of the victims though sometimes it takes decades. It's a fantastic topic to look at through the prism of true crime."

Indeed, the Oxygen network shifted to all crime, all the time, a year ago and is adding several new true crime programs this year. It is competing head one with Investigation Discovery, which is one of the few basic cable networks to see major growth in recent years.

Screen image from "Abuse of Power," courtesy of Oxygen Network


"Abuse of Power," 7 p.m.. Saturday, starting May 12, Oxygen

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.