|The BBC reporting on Rolf Harris's Conviction|
So, Rolf Harris has been convicted on twelve counts of indecent assault. He has been released on bail pending sentencing. He has been returned to the bosom of his family and the comforts of his home. I rather think he deserved to be gaoled pending sentencing.
Operation Yewtree is racking up convictions.
Of course this is a good thing.
It has all come rather late in the day, though.
Jimmy Savile died in 2011 two days before his 85th birthday, having never faced allegations. Rolf Harris is an eighty-four year old man, who has lived a long, and by most standards rather charmed life. Max Clifford, aged 71 is serving eight years for sexual offences against minors and young women. Gary Glitter is seventy years old and currently in the court system, as is ex-DJ Chris Denning, aged 73. Paul Gambacinni, 65 remains on bail. Dave Lee Travis, aged 69 has been through the system once and was acquitted, but faces a retrial and an additional charge of indecent assault.
That’s a massive accumulation of years... Years of opportunities to abuse. Years of freedom. Whole lifetimess of amassing wealth and status, of living in the spotlight growing in confidence, getting away with ruining the lives and futures of innocent young people.
For those not yet tried, we will of course have to wait for the courts to do their work and for verdicts to be returned.
There seems to be little doubt as to Savile’s guilt, and Harris and Clifford have been convicted. In a separately brought case, Stuart Hall, also aged 84 was convicted of sexual offences against minors. Although the case was not under the Yewtree umbrella, the victim was motivated to speak out by the Jimmy Savile scandal. This was no accident.
John Stuart Mill is quoted as having said,
Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
It needs to stop and it needs to stop now. More than that, it should never have been allowed to happen.
The people abused by the likes of Savile, Harris, Clifford and Hall might be survivors and they might have found closure now that they have finally seen their abusers answer for their crimes. They might have lived good and valuable lives, and I’m sure that they are wonderful, caring people. I also know that they deserved better. They deserved, as all children do to enjoy the security and innocence of childhood, and they were robbed of those things by evildoers. Their young lives were far from charmed.
Yes, their abusers must answer for that, but so must we all. If we can live in a society in which men like Harris, Hall, Clifford and Savile can grow rich and famous, can be lauded and applauded, and can live long and comfortable lives then we are all doing something badly wrong.
We must learn not to excuse each other. We must learn not to make exceptions. We must learn to separate the art, the entertainment or the accomplishment from the individual. Celebrities are as much strangers to us as are everybody else and we should treat them with the same caution. When we see wrongdoing we must speak out about it, no matter how popular or how powerful the individual concerned. And when a victim reaches out, no matter how weak, how powerless, that person must be heard. In fact, shouldn’t the most vulnerable, the weakest the most powerless be tended to with the most care?
No matter what happens to Rolf Harris now, his life is over, it has been lived, and it can’t be un-lived. He can be stripped of his honours, but that will never take away those days he stood in front of the Queen, or made front page news for being one of the clever, talented, entertaining good guys. He can be vilified now, but his success, the ringing of applause in his ears cannot be wiped from his memory. There’s no turning back, just as there’s no changing the past for his victims.
These unspeakable parasites live among us, perpetrating their crimes by dint of their popularity, their status, their apparent clean-living, credible bonhomie, and it is unbearable.
Whatever life is left to Rolf Harris, I hope that he lives it in abject misery. Of course, men like him seldom do.
For his victims, if happiness really is the best revenge, I hope they find some comfort in his conviction. I hope they live long, happy, prosperous, purposeful lives surrounded by people who love and value them. I hope they love and laugh and enjoy the good things that life has to offer. I hope it with every fibre of my being.