Nov 21, 2014 12:12 PM

Britain still grappling with celebrity sex abuse

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) A growing scandal of decades-old sexual assault allegations against television icon Bill Cosby has shocked many in the United States. Across the Atlantic, Britain has been struggling for more than two years to come to terms with a barrage of similar accusations against leading men in its entertainment world who allegedly used their fame and power to exploit young victims.

Like the allegations against Cosby, most of those now claiming abuse against high-profile figures in Britain point to incidents that took place years, if not decades, ago. Here's a look at what has happened in Britain:


The soul searching began with revelations that late DJ and television host Jimmy Savile a cultural fixture once mourned by people from Prince Charles to the Bee Gees had been assaulting underage girls for over half a century, using charitable work as a cover to get access to victims. Savile died in 2011 and his reputation began to unravel after an ITV documentary about the abuse. Soon the wave of allegations became a tsunami, implicating schools, charities and hospitals where Savile volunteered.

Britons wondered how they could have been deceived so long and allegations simmered of a cover-up at the highest levels. As the scandal exploded, authorities began investigating further, launching a national inquiry called "Operation Yewtree."

Hundreds of men and women have come forward to testify. Perpetrators have been identified. Celebrities have faced trial. Some have been imprisoned. And it is continuing.


Rolf Harris, the veteran Australian-British entertainer, best known as an avuncular children's television host, was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison in July for a dozen indecent assaults on four girls. A prosecutor said that Harris, 84, got away with the assaults, which took place between the '60s and '80s, because he was "too famous, too powerful and his reputation made him untouchable."

Max Clifford, a prominent PR guru who had represented celebrities such as Simon Cowell, was sentenced to eight years in prison in May after he was found guilty of assaulting four women and girls in the '70s and '80s. Clifford was accused of using his entertainment connections to lure young girls into sex including offering them acting roles in the '80s TV series "Dynasty." The judge overseeing the trial said that some of the offenses would be charged as rape if they had taken place today.

Dave Lee Travis, a 69-year-old radio disc jockey and music show host, was convicted in September of indecently assaulting a woman in 1995. Travis was found guilty of cornering a female researcher in the corridor of a TV studio, but cleared of two other charges of indecent and sexual assault.

William Roache, star of the long-running British soap opera "Coronation Street," was charged with raping and sexually assaulting five women in the '60s and '70s. The 81-year-old, who said he had never met the women who accused him, was cleared of the charges in February.


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