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Stotty On Sunday: TIME TO FREE KING.

Byline: Richard Stott

A TYPICALLY upbeat and ballsy Christmas card from Jonathan King - showing him transported into a Van Gogh painting exercising in a prison yard. He has just spent his fourth festive season in the slammer and is up for parole in March. He deserves to get it.

King was convicted of a series of offences involving sex with underage boys and sentenced to seven years. However unpleasant this sounds, everything is not as it appears to be. All agreed to the sex and some were pop groupies who kept on coming back for more.

The offences were extremely old, some of them almost 30 years ago, and no complaints were made by the victims at the time. Only constant publicity during the investigation into King - caused by a homosexual former disc jockey spilling the beans - prompted the men to come forward at all. It is always dangerous to force the morality of one age on that of another.

Unlike King, I believe he was guilty, but his sentence raises some disturbing questions. Many pop stars of the 1960s and 1970s had sex with under-age groupies. The difference is most of them were girls.

At his trial much was made of the emotional scarring of King's young men, although those of us with a more cynical turn of mind wonder why in that case they hadn't complained earlier. There is always the possibility of compensation if your evidence leads to a conviction. However distasteful we might find his behaviour, his sentence was savage and pandered to the lowest instincts of popular opinion.

It is difficult not to believe he was given such a long term as much for who he was as for what he had done.

If, for example, King had not been a flamboyant old queen of a pop impresario but an RAF serviceman who fancies under-age girls, he would have been fined pounds 600, like weapons expert Paul Dyson last week who admitted unlawful sex with a 14-year-old. Another man was fined pounds 750 and a third jailed for eight months.

There is no doubt that all those years ago King played with fire. But he did not deserve to be burnt at the stake for what looks dangerously like a modern-day witch-hunt.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2004
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