The reputation of Bill Cosby, the actor and comedian who was practically a saint in a society of rent with conflict and discord, is unraveling at a rather shocking pace in the past week or so. In the wake of his reemergence on the public scene to embark on a stand-up tour, a dozen or so women have come forward to claim that as adults they were provided drugs by Cosby, who told them they would aid in some ailment they claimed to suffer—only to be rendered susceptible to his sexual “attentions.”
These accusations have been around for at least a decade, with the first incidents occurring 45 years ago. Cosby had already paid-off some of the complainants, but that hasn’t prevented them from talking. My suspicion is that back in day, there was a little “experimentation” going on with such drugs to see if their “effects” could be put to use other than their intended uses. I also suspect that during the 1960s and 70s when these alleged assaults occurred, their use wasn’t seen quite as “wrong” as they are now, given the media’s 24-hour coverage of gender victim mythology.
That is not to say that the substance of the accusations against Cosby was less wrong then as it would be today; the country has grown considerably more “sensitive” to the issue since then, with 24-hour media desperate for ratings, opportunities for 15 minutes of “fame” and maybe even a little cash is there for any sensational story against a vulnerable public figure.
But Cosby’s transgressions as a “beloved” figure in the entertainment industry are nothing compared to that of the late Jimmy Savile, who was the legendary presenter on the BBC’s Top of the Pops, and hosted a show called Jim’ll Fix It from the 1960s into the 1980s, in which he fulfilled some disadvantaged child’s “dream.” These children could be found at National Health Service hospitals, to which Savile obviously was then a frequent visitor to find “suitable” recipients fo his “charitableness”—and somretimes something else.
The term “necrophilia” conjures up disgusting images of “sex” or “erotic” fondling with dead bodies. In the case of Savile, it meant, according to the testimony of a former colleague, "The expression which I came to associate with Savile's sex partners was ... the now politically incorrect 'under-age subnormals'. He targeted the institutionalised, the hospitalized.” It was alleged that Savile would visit the hospitals and roam the halls in search of mentally-challenged patients who likely had little or no cognizance of his “personal attention.” And it wasn’t just children who were likely subjects of this attention; the ages of his victims ranged from ages 5 to 75.
Not all of Savile’s victims were essentially comatose or “retarded”; some were perfectly normal—save for being “star struck.” Savile wasn’t a musician, but he knew many of the pop stars of the day, and his connection to them drew young fans—particularly girls—to him, and it was alleged that Savile had “inappropriate” contact with some of them, sometimes on BBC property. One actress recalled that when she was 14 she was asked to appear on one of Savile’s Jim’ll Fix It, she felt—in hindsight—“uncomfortable” with his hands spending a few seconds longer than “normal” on her, while in full view of a roomful of people.
Savile—a life-long bachelor—claimed that he didn’t “like” children to ward-off the suspicions of pedophilia. Although “rumors” in the early 1970s about Savile’s predilections—not just during visits to hospitals, but to at least one school for “delinquent” or “troubled” girls—led to “discreet inquiries by police, Savile denied everything, and investigations went no further.
However, Savile maintained his popular image in British culture until after his death in 2011, when investigations into his past began in earnest. A scandal erupted when it was learned that the BBC had quashed a report on Savile’s interactions with girls at one of the aforementioned schools, and eventually a full-blown investigation, Operation Yewtree, was undertaken by police agencies all over Britain. Accusations poured in by the hundreds, not just by women, but by men as well; by the time it was over, there would be 450 allegations of sexual abuse committed by Savile, 80 percent children or young people, and a like percentage female. Most of these allegations were for “inappropriate touching,” but Savile was also accused of 31 instances of rape.
While in the U.S., even one accusation can used by someone to “tear down” a sports star, celebrity, politician or public figure once the media gets a hold of it, the accusations against Savile far outstrip even the wildest imagination of even the most fanatical victim mythology advocate. How he got away with it for so long is probably even more unimaginable.