Thursday, May 1, 2014

A troubling English sex abuse scandal

One of England's most popular TV personalities was a guy named Jimmy Savile.  He often hosted a TV series called "Top of the Pops!"  This was a weekly TV show about pop music.  I am not English (I'm American) so I don't know much about this show other than the fact that it was very popular and seemed to be shown in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

From Top of the Pops:

Savile died in 2011 and, after his death, apparently, many women came forward and claimed he had sexually abused (harmed) them many years earlier.  Some women claimed he had done this in the 1960s and 70s. I don't know all the details, but it seems as if the English police and the BBC (the television network) never did anything about the sex abuse allegations (claims, accusations).

Now, England has arrested several famous men who also, allegedly (supposedly), committed sexual abuse in the 1960s and 1970s.  Again, I am not from England and just learned about this, but it seems that about 10 or 15 men have been arrested by the police and are going to go on trial for crimes they supposedly committed 30 or 40 years ago.

One of these performers is named Rolf Harris.  He is charged with sexually touching young girls in the 60s, 70s and 80s.  He is now 84.  Here is an old Rolf Harris video:

Some people are claiming that because the police allowed Jimmy Savile to abuse children for so long they are now on a 'witch-hunt.'  A witch-hunt is when people are falsely accused of having done something wrong in order to make it seem as if the police or people in power are doing their jobs.  In a witch hunt many innocent people are falsely arrested.

Some of the people who were arrested for crimes they were supposed to have committed many years ago have been found not-guilty.  However, one person was recently found guilty and lawyers for the people who claim to have been victims are saying that this conviction (when a person is found guilty it is a conviction)  shows that this is not a witch-hunt and that many English celebrities from the past were abusing children.

I am concerned about the fact that these guys are being brought to trial after so long.  Is it possible for them to receive a fair trial?  What kind of evidence can there be?  Is this right? As always, I am trying to present something thought-provoking and you can make up your own mind.  If sexual abuse happened, this is horrible and I feel complete and total empathy for those who were hurt as children. Yet, it also bothers me that these guys are going on trial for things that supposedly happened 30 or 40 years ago.  I am not sure this is right.

But any way you look at this situation, it is a huge embarrassment for England.  Either many of their stars were sexually attacking children in the past and the police were doing nothing, or they are arresting innocent people. Or, maybe it's a little bit of both.

Here is the latest article about this situation:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a conviction - when a person is found guilty in a courtroom; an acquittal is when a person is found innocent or not guilty

Operation Yewtree - a police investigation can be called an operation.  Sometimes operations are given code names. The name of this operation or investigation - in regard to English celebrities who may have abused children sexually - is called Yewtree.  Often there is no connection between the name of the operation and the operation itself.

celeb witch hunt - a celebrity witch-hunt.  A witch hunt is when innocent people are arrested because people in power want to pretend they are doing their jobs.

offences - crimes

a publicist - this is a person who helps celebrities become famous

eight counts - 8 examples of wrongdoing

indecent assault - indecent means sexual in this case, so an indecent assault is a sexual attack

PR guru - PR means public relations...the field that influences people's attitudes toward celebrities and organizations.  a guru is a great teacher or a person who has really mastered his/her field

cleared - found not guilty of something

a jury - 12 people who decide whether a person is guilty or innocent

a verdict - a decision of guilt or innocence

Met police - city police

inquiry - investigation

allegations - claims that someone did something wrong

in the wake of - following

a scandal - when something negative is revealed about someone famous that the famous person does not want others to know about

high-profile - a high-profile arrest is when the police arrest (take into custody) someone famous

released without charge - they were not formally arrested; they do not have to appear in court for a trial

failing to prosecute Savile - those in power did not arrest someone who was an obvious offender and now they are over-arresting people to make up for their previous mistakes

an accusation - a claim that something wrong occurred

should come forward with even if the offenses - this is a mistake. They should have written: should come forward even if the offenses

predatory - a predator is a hunter, so a predatory person is someone who looks for powerless people to harm

to groom and then abuse the vulnerable - to groom someone in this case means to influence or manipulate the person to the point where she can be used sexually; someone vulnerable is someone who can be hurt

shrouded in silence - covered in silence

vital - important

corroboratory - to corroborate means to support, so corroboratory evidence means things that really show a crime occurred.  In this case there is nothing that shows that a crime occurred - just words (testimony).  So the lawyer for the people making the accusations is happy that someone can be found guilty just based on words.

ruthless - showing no mercy or sympathy or concern for others

on the eve of something - the day before

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