The Jimmy Savile inquiry resulted in a massive and ongoing investigation into alleged sex crimes against mostly media people, but what is really going on here?
A year after his death, a documentary about the DJ Jimmy Savile resulted in the trashing of his reputation. It led too to a massive police inquiry – Operation Yewtree – and both related and unrelated inquiries stemming from allegations made against people mostly in and around the media. Now we all know it is not politically correct to question the fact that rape is a vastly under-reported crime. Or the fact that false allegations of rape and sexual assault are few and far between. Yeah, right. So there really is only one possibility. That we in Britain and especially in and around the media are living in a rape culture. Or is there another explanation?
Consider the names of some of those arrested so far:
Gary Glitter – as he had appeared on the same programme as Savile at least once, and in view of his sexual history, his name would obviously come up. But did he really rape a 14 year old girl in Savile’s dressing room at the BBC as claimed?
Max Clifford is one of the biggest names in UK PR, if nothing else this means he is an extremely savvy individual. Clifford was married to his first wife for over 35 years, and seven years later married his former PA. If you met him in the street and didn’t recognise him, you’d think he was a lawyer or an accountant, so is it likely that he would have groped or have otherwise abused underage girls at a BBC studio or wherever?
Okay, we all know you should never judge a book by its cover, and in this case it may be karma coming back to bite Clifford for his endorsement of fantasist Nadine Milroy-Sloan 12 years ago, but the list goes on and on. At present, two well known TV faces from the same soap are facing trial for sexually abusing minors. These separate allegations do not relate to the Savile inquiry. One of these men is Michael Le Vell, who will shortly be standing trial for the rape of an underage girl, which is about as serious as it gets; the other is Andrew Lancel, who is facing charges of indecently assaulting an underage boy between 1993 and 1994.
Like Mr Le Vell, Lancel appeared in the long running Coronation Street, although unlike the former, his character was fairly transient, being murdered by his own mother after she overheard him confessing to raping his (female) business partner, a crime for which he stood trial and was acquitted. If those two cases don’t give every thoughtful person food for thought, they should, but there is much more.
Yet another person facing an historical rape charge is the veteran broadcaster Stuart Hall, who is now over eighty, and the latest celebrity to be arrested – though not charged – is the UK’s favourite Australian, Rolf Harris. The avuncular Harris is the same age as Hall, and has been married to the same woman since 1958. If there is one man you would trust with a nursery full of preschoolers, it is Rolf Harris, though now we will probably see a rash of jokes in poor taste about two little boys and what he really did with his didgeridoo.
Because of the way all sex crimes – real and imagined – are handled in the UK, it would not be appropriate to comment in depth on any of these cases, but most of them are related to London and/or Manchester. There have been some very real and shocking sex crimes proven in the UK of late, including by paedophile gangs operating in Rochdale, something that was hushed up largely because of the ethnic origins of the perpetrators. There has also been the conviction of Michael Brewer, who along with his ex-wife was convicted of historical indecent assaults on a woman who committed suicide before the guilty verdicts were returned at their trial. In spite of these convictions, choirmaster Brewer was cleared of the major charge against him, rape. These offences were alleged to have taken place three decades earlier. Although Brewer is known to have embarked on an illicit affair with a student in the 1990s, there is a canyon wide gap between this and rape.
After the Brewer case, a professor of music who had taught at the same institution was arrested on suspicion of rape. As might be suspected from his name, Wen Zhou Li is Chinese. How likely is it in addition to the abuse committed by Brewer and his then wife – real and imagined – that an outsider would also be raping students at the same institution? And the allegations go on. So were there two more sexual predators operating at Chetham’s School of Music, six, a dozen? Or perhaps none at all, including Brewer?
It is touching to learn that (with the exception of police officers), nobody is ever either above suspicion or above the law, but allegations of historical sexual assault are by and large crimes for which there is and very often can be no independent corroboration. Can not even the imbeciles who run our so-called independent Crown Prosecution Service appreciate just how dangerous this is?
In case anyone still misses the point, here are a few names:
If those names don’t grab you, how about Salem?
Of the above, only Cleveland relied on medical evidence of sexual abuse, evidence that turned out to be flawed, yet it seems that neither the police nor anyone else has learned anything in the quarter of a century since then.
In the McMartin Preschool case, much of the evidence elicited from the non-victims was simply fantastic, yet headstrong prosecutors (headstrong being a polite term) dragged it out interminably, submitting the real victims – including Ray Buckey – to years of legal persecution before the whole sorry charade finally collapsed.
Allegations of historical crimes – whether or not they involve sexual abuse or abuse of any kind – should be treated with unreserved suspicion unless there are compelling reasons for them not to be. A body found in a shallow grave 10 or 15 years after the victim disappeared is not an historical crime, nor was the conviction last year of Antoni Imiela for a 1987 rape, a rape that was reported at the time. Likewise if a complex fraud comes to light years down the line, or CCTV is found years later of someone committing an offence, there should be no controversy over a prosecution.
The alleged historical sex crimes currently being “investigated” do not fall into that category, for all manner of reasons. To begin with, the current investigations are not evidence led but trawls; when people are invited to come forward and make allegations against either named individuals or a specific class of person, they have a tendency to do just that, all the more so when they will be guaranteed anonymity, may be rewarded with tea and sympathy, not to mention the prospect of cash payouts further down the line and maybe the chance of selling their stories to a Sunday tabloid for a five figure sum.
With no corroboration required and no sanctions applied for those who simply make things up, some individuals may see this as a win-win situation, they get to drag someone’s name through the mud, someone to whom they may have taken a dislike for whatever trivial reason – perhaps failing to reply to a fan letter.
To the above must be added the most dangerous accusers of all, delusional people, largely but not exclusively women. This is one of those taboo subjects, but talk to an experienced detective or a specialist solicitor/barrister off the record and you will be told what only the very brave or the very foolish will admit openly, that for whatever reason, some people fantasise about being sexually attacked, and that with the passage of time these confabulations become real memories.
Anyone who is inclined to dismiss this out of hand should check out the testimonies of Arizona Wilder, Cathy O’Brien or Susan Lindauer. Lindauer is a very interesting character; her delusions – which are not sexual in nature – have been peddled by the conspiracy crowd including Alex Jones and David Icke. Her credibility is due partly to her charisma, partly to her treatment by the American Government, and partly due to many of her allegations against Uncle Sam having “kernels of truth” as the United States District Court for New York put it.
People who peddle spurious stories about enormous government conspiracies, mind control or alien abductions, have a certain entertainment value, but a woman who claims she was groped by a teacher or celebrity twenty years previously does not have either the same entertainment value or very often the same credibility problems. We can still halt these ludicrous witch-hunts now, but if past history is anything to go by, Cassandra will yet again be ignored.
[The above op-ed was first published April 20, 2013. Its original title was (the grammatically incorrect) Historical alleged sex crimes in the UK, or something else?]
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