To those who are fans of the history of hip-hop, Afrikaa Bambaataa is a household name: a musical pioneer who created some of rap’s earliest big hits in the 1980s and became one of the first nationally-known dj’s, influencing thousands of musicians in the decades since. In the past few months, numerous allegations have flared up in the media that Bambaataa engaged in repeated acts of sexual abuse of boys in the 1980s. Bambaataa initially denied the reports and others suggested the accusations were part of a plot against the musician, but the tide has turned against Bambaataa as the number of allegations have grown, and reports indicate he has confessed to abusing children.
The facts of the Bambaataa case, while shocking, are actually fairly common in child sexual abuse cases, and highlight how abusers carry out their abuse and remain out of trouble for years after the abuse.
The Accusations Against Bambaataa
The initial allegations in the media came out in April when Ronald Savage, a 50-year old political activist from the Bronx, gave an interview to the New York Daily News in which he claimed that Bambaataa sexually abused him as a 15-year-old in 1980 when Bambaataa was in his early 20’s. Savage said the musician fondled him and forced him to perform sex acts, and this happened on five occasions. After Savage’s allegations, three other men came out in public to say that Bambaataa had sexually abused them as well.
After Savage’s allegations against Bambaataa, the Universal Zulu Nation, a cultural organization that Bambaataa founded in the 1980s, threatened to file a defamation lawsuit against Savage and also accused him of cooperating with the government in a conspiracy to discredit Bambaataa. Meanwhile, members of the organization reportedly offered Savage large sums of money to buy his silence.
After more allegations grew against Bambaataa, the Universal Zulu Nation asked him to step down as its leader and reports indicate that he said at least some of the allegations were true.
Why the Bambaataa Case Is Not Uncommon
Sadly, much of what we see in the Bambaataa case is all too common. The vast majority of child sexual abuse cases go unreported, with two-thirds of sexually abused boys never reporting the abuse. One of the major reasons that boys (and girls) do not report abuse is because they do not think they will be believed. Most child sexual abuse is carried out not by strangers but by older men who are in some kind of dominant position and they target specific boys for special attention. Savage said that Bambaataa – who at 23 was already one of the biggest stars in the rap world – invited the teenager to stay over at his house, and that he was known for having a “fun” house to be around. Likewise, many abusers are coaches, counselors, and youth leaders who gain access to boys as respected figures in the boy’s lives, and then often ply them with attention and pornography (which Savage said was done in his abuse).
Furthermore, victims are threatened if they talk, and the denials and threats made against Savage are indicative of what abusers try to do to keep their victims quiet. We also know that most abusers abuse many children over their lives (we saw this with Jerry Sandusky as well), and so it sometimes only the case that when victims grow up and hear about other reports of abuse that they understand that they were not the only ones to be abused and that others suffer and might continue to suffer if the abuser is not brought to justice.
If you have been a victim of child sexual abuse, legal help is available to bring your abuser to justice and to compensate you for your injuries. Even if the abuse happened long in the past, the child sexual abuse attorneys at Gastelum Law will investigate the facts of your abuse and work with you to get the justice you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.