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Reform Magazine | December 1, 2023

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Fallen stars

Thoughts on Operation Yewtree by Jacqueline Laing

It’s a Knock Out, Jim’ll Fix It, and Sunday Night at the Palladium conjure up fond memories of my childhood. Weekends, for churched hermits like us, were the Holy Grail of the TV week, dominated by Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall and “Tarby” to name a few.


Every week it seems, one of our childhood darlings is carried off


For those of who grew up in that era, it seems like every week one of our childhood “darlings” is handcuffed and carted down to the local nick on allegations of sexual misconduct, including rape.

Thirteen men have been arrested as part of Operation Yewtree, the investigation born out of Savile’s reign of sexual terror. As a result, women who have been marred and silent because of their sexual interference are now able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Our first response has to be sympathy and empathy towards the victims; and yet, there’s something about the current wave of arrests that makes me feel a tad uncomfortable.

I haven’t been the object of the egotistical, unsolicited, misogynistic perverted desires, of sexual fiends, so it’s easy to be an armchair juror. Neither have I lost my innocence through deception to someone I trusted. However, in the midst of that, I still cannot help wonder how fair it is to bring up historical allegations from 40 years ago. How would we like it if the darkness of our past suddenly wafted across every TV screen in the land?

As unfortunate as this period is, we trust that it will offer closure to those involved and hope to countless others who until now, haven’t had the courage to speak out about their abuse.

That said, the motivation behind their tireless pursuit of justice is, in my view, more than just closure; it’s about the inextricable link between sex and identity and how sexual misappropriation robs us of our sense of self.

Sexual crime of any kind is theft – taking something without consent. It’s the crossing of the boundaries that keep our identity intact. It’s a desire to retrieve something taken, rather than simply to punish or take revenge, which, I believe, drives this need for justice.

Some victims, especially in the case of Savile, will never have the closure of bringing their abusers to justice. But, for them as for all of us in our own ways, healing is in their own hands, and in their decision to let go. As Jesus teaches us, it is from this decision that healing flows, and victims can begin to regain something of that which was lost.

Jacqueline Laing is preparing for ministry in the New Testament Church of God


This article was published in the June 2013 edition of  Reform.

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