In the UK there has been a recent police investigation called operation Yewtree, into celebrity behaviour, following the revelations that the late Sir Jimmy Saville OBE, a well known children’s TV presenter and charity worker, had been a sysetmatic and prolific sex abuser of children, throughout his career for 40 years.
The latest to fall in this scandal is a man, now 83, who was a very successful “hail fellow well met” TV presenter and sports commentator for over 40 years.
Upon his arrest in December 2012, the much loved and jovial man protested his innocence and called the allegations “pernicious and cruel”. But I knew the allegations to be true, because 47 years ago, I had to, literally, fight off, with a slap across the face, this mans rather aggressive, unprovoked advances and groping, when he gave me a lift home after reporting on a sports event I was competing in.
Last week the man pleaded guilty to 13 counts of sexual assault and is awaiting sentence.
What shocked me at the time in 1966 was, not particularly the assault it’self, but that I was a 16 year old girl and to me he was a middle aged (36!), married, well known TV celebrity.
Not wishing to trivialise or condone this mans behaviour, what shocks me now is why anybody would wait 40 years to report a sexual assault.
When the man was charged there were three alleged victims, since than another ten have come forward. As a “victim ” myself I find it unbelievable why anyone should drag up a long forgotten incident from 1966/7 and put themselves in a position where the whole unpleasant incident and their good name would be dragged through the courts and they could be called a lier by unscrupulous lawyers. After all it is difficult to prove such things when they happen, let alone after all this time.
At the time in 1966, although shaken, I dismissed the incident. It never occurred to me to report it to the police, it never occurred to me that he might be a serial pest.
Maybe , like many other victims, I somehow thought I had provoked him. ( Although at the time I did not consider a sweaty girl with greasy hair and spots in a baggy rounders outfit very alluring!) Maybe I should not have got into his car, maybe I had given him the wrong messages. Why did he pick on me?
This is how “victims” often think. and this mindset is often exploited by defence lawyers.
I now know that men are NOT regulated by uncontrollable sexual urges and are unable to help themselves if aroused. I now know that men ARE perfectly responsible for their own behaviour and should be capable of controlling themselves…. and non consensual sexual contact or sex is always assault or rape. No grey areas.
To be honest, I suspect like many women , this was not the only time in my youth that I had to fight off unwelcome advances from men, whose names I cannot remember This incident did not traumatise me in fact until he was arrested it was a well buried memory.
If the victims have come forward for monetary gain, I find that just as distasteful as the original crime. After all he hardly presents a threat to young girls now. They are not saving anybody from harm.
So what does the judge do with an 83 year old sex predator This man has already lost all his credibility, his reputation and respect. He can never show his face in public again. Gone will be the celebrity friends and rounds of golf , gone will be the after dinner speeches and privileged service in hotels and restaurants. His whole lifestyle will be devastated. Goodness knows what his 74 year old wife and 50 something children have had to endure.
In my opinion, prison seems a pointless option. The victims have already had their revenge. At the age of 83, what purpose will it serve to lock this man up, with other prisoners who traditionally do not like people convicted of sex crimes and who will make his life hell. His life as he knew it is already destroyed. Thus will not serve as a deterrent to this man he is too old for any rehabilitation.
A difficult decision for the judge.
Update…. Stuart Hall was sentenced to 15 months in prison on June 17th 2013. There were protests against the leniency of the sentence and legal appeals to have it lengthened. Again I have mixed feelings about this for an 83 year old man.
However my feelings towards the victims have changed after reading this account by another victim who was nine at the time and realise my attitude was coloured by my own denial and attempt to forget. This victim has much the same reaction as me and I admire her courage for eventually coming forward.
A year ago, surprise, surprise, I was in Paris.
and at a Hindu wedding in Stockport