Abstract title: ‘Vile Pervert’: Jonathan King Against the #FalseAllegationsIndustry
Keywords: historical abuse, media, perpetrator perspectives
Jonathan King had his first big hit in 1965 with ‘Everyone’s Gone to the Moon’, a song that he wrote and performed while still a student at Cambridge. He continued in the pop and entertainment business with great commercial success and peer esteem (recipient of the highly prestigious Music Industry Trusts award in 1997). However, in September 2001, King was convicted of child sexual abuse and sentenced to seven years in prison for having sexually assaulted five boys, aged 14 and 15, in the 1980s (1983-89). In November 2001 he was acquitted of 22 similar charges. A further trial for sexual offences against teenage boys (as part of Operation Ravine, a second investigation into claims of sexual abuse at the Walton Hop disco in the 1970s) resulted in several not guilty verdicts and the trial being abandoned in June 2018.
In the context of the ongoing investigations into the involvement of celebrities and historic child sexual abuse, he continues to maintain vigorously his innocence. Since his release on parole in March 2005, while his historical work has been subject to censure (the removal of King’s performance of ‘It Only Takes a Minute’ from a repeat on BBC Four of a 1976 episode of Top of the Pops) and his damaged reputation has prevented a full rehabilitation to the world of entertainment, he has leveraged his show business acumen by deploying personal media to challenge the veracity of his criminal conviction. This ongoing body of media work provides us with a unique insight into a perpetrator’s perspective of child sexual abuse. Drawing on his own experience as a perceived victim of the ‘false allegations industry’ (‘grasping’ compensation culture, lurid tabloid journalism and corrupt and incompetent criminal justice system), King has used self-made books, films and social media to contest his guilt. In particular, he has self-identified ironically as a ‘vile pervert’ in a series of his own films made available widely on video and social media (Vile Pervert: The Musical (2008), Vile Pervert: The Sequel (2015) and Vile Pervert: The Truth Awakens (2018)). How valuable are these perspectives in understanding the experience of and issues around historical child sexual abuse? How does the narcissistic, self-declared ‘King of Hits’ mediatise his personal biography and circumstance, and what is the nature of his challenge to the demonisation narratives in the media used in relation to celebrities and historical child sexual abuse?
Author: Andrew Clay