Sexual assault is a despicable crime - unspeakable, especially when it involves children or underage youth. It's a complicated criminal issue, too, as thousands of people who are victims of sexual violence and harassment hesitate to report it to authorities or might never report it. Victims might be discouraged due to the probing, personal nature of a consequent investigation. They might even feel misplaced guilt. Victims often cite fear of widespread ridicule, online backlash, and spiteful legal actions against them as reasons for refraining from reporting a case of sexual assault to law enforcement. Of course, youth and children are so wrought with fear and confusion after assault or molestation that they remain silent about their accusers until they gain the courage to speak out.
When a case involves a celebrity, all these issues are magnified and the already tricky legal territory can become treacherous. Not every case of celebrity sexual assault presented here has led to guilty pleas, prosecution, or even sentencing. Some defenders have been acquitted of their charges, while others are still under investigation. Some cases do not involve legal charges at all but weigh heavy on the public consciousness.
17 Ruben Patterson
Ruben Patterson, the NBA forward for the Seattle SuperSonics, was charged with attacking and attempting to sexually assault his nanny.
In 2011, while inside his Bellevue home, he attempted to force himself on the family caretaker. He plead guilty of the charges and was eventually sentenced to six months of prison time. However, the judge later reduced the sentence to only six months probation.
16 Paul Reubens
Paul Reubens is the man behind the famed children’s television character Pee-wee Herman. In 2011, he plead guilty to charges of possession of explicit material featuring children.
Authorities said that upon searching his home they uncovered material that depicted children in sexual acts. Despite his defence that the images were actually artistic photographs, Reubens settled in court with a guilty plea and was fined $100, put on three years probation, and registered as a sex offender.
15 Ian Watkins
Ian Watkins was the lead-singer of the British alt-rock band Lostprophets. In 2013, the lead singer plead guilty to multiple sex offence charges involving children, including the attempted sexual violation of an infant.
He admitted in court that he attempted to sexually assault a child under 13 and possessed child pornography and other images depicting bestiality. According to one officer investigating the case, the evidence was "the most shocking and harrowing child abuse evidence [he had] ever seen.”
14 Vincent Margera
Vincent Margera, also known as Don Vito, is the uncle of Bam Margera and a staple character on the MTV show “Viva La Bam”. In 2007, the marginally famous performer was charged, tried, and sentenced to 10 years probation for two charges of sexual assault of a child.
On at least one occasion, Margera is alleged to have inappropriately touched two young girls aged 12 and 14-years old, respectively. During the trial he was placed on suicide watch due to his overwhelming sense of guilt.
13 Shane Sparks
Shane Sparks was one of the judges on the television show "America’s Best Dance Crew." He was charged in 2009 with 8 counts of child molestation that began in 1994 and involved only one underage victim.
The charges claimed that Sparks intended to coerce a girl not of legal age into giving consent. He was held on more than a half-million dollar bail and is now a registered sex offender.
12 Paula Poundstone
Paula Poundstone is a famous stand-up comedian known for wearing predominately men’s clothing as part of her act. In 2001, she pleaded no contest to charges of child sexual abuse and inflicting injury on a child. These charges stemmed from allegations that she was sexually inappropriate with her three adopted and two foster children. Allegedly, she forced lewd acts upon a 14-year old girl and put the other minors in danger.
Mystikal, an R&B singer, was charged with both sexual assault and extortion in 2002. The charges were based on a video confiscated by authorities that showed the alleged sexual assault.
The video apparently showed Mystikal and two other men verbally harass an adult hairstylist and force her to engage in sexual acts with them. It was also alleged that Mystikal further sexually attacked the woman while the camera was turned off.
10 R. Kelly
With many cases of allegations of sexual assault, it is difficult to collect the appropriate evidence. However, in R. Kelly’s case, there was ample video to suggest he did engage in sexual relation with at least one underage girl.
However, in 2008, Kelly was acquitted of all charges of possession of lewd material featuring a child and sexual acts with a child. Both Kelly and the alleged 13-year old girl denied they were the ones in the video that was mailed to The Chicago Times.
The court determined neither he nor the woman were on the tape and Kelly was released from all charges.
9 Mike Tyson
We all know Mike Tyson as the boxing heavy-weight champion. We also know him for various violent acts outside of the ring that have smeared his reputation and status as a cultural icon.
In 1992, Tyson was found guilty in court of sexually assaulting an 18-year old beauty pageant contestant. Tyson met the young woman and invited her back to his hotel where, according to his court defence, they engaged in foreplay and discussed consensual sex. However, the jury considered the facts of the case as presented and found him guilty.
8 Jeffrey Jones
Jeffrey Jones has acted in some very popular films throughout his career, including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Beetlejuice, and the horror-thriller Ravenous. However, in 2003, the actor pleaded no contest to charges that he solicited an underage male to pose for nude photographs.
Other sexually explicit photographs were also found on his computer. In 2010, he failed to update his sexual offender registration and could not be located.
7 Jian Ghomeshi
Jian Ghomeshi is a well-known Canadian celebrity and the host of the CBC radio talkshow "Q with Jian Ghomeshi." He is well loved by Canadians for his skills as an interviewer and the cultural content of his program. However, only one week ago, it emerged that Ghomeshi was accused of sexual assault by up to 8 women who claimed they were beaten, choked, bitten, and verbally harassed by Ghomeshi while on various dates.
All this emerged when CBC fired Ghomeshi for behaviour they didn't feel was befitting of the Canadian broadcasting institution. He has since sued CBC for over $50 million.
Ghomeshi claimed in a statement that these were all consensual acts of role-play and domination. The case has sparked controversy in Canada and has created a media dialogue about sexual assault culture, violence against women, and the power positions of male celebrities. None of the women have so far pressed charges, but Ghomeshi's reputation teeters on the verge of ruin.
6 Kevin Clash
Kevin Clash is a celebrity without a face. He was the master puppeteer and voice actor for the iconic puppet character Elmo from the beloved children’s show "Sesame Street." In the last two years, however, three men came forward and alleged that Clash had sexually abused them while they were underage.
One man claimed he was only 16, though he later recanted his statement. He then claimed he was pressured to settle the case and forget the charges, but that, in fact, the abuse did happen. Clash denied all the allegations and all charges were cleared when a judged dismissed the case due to the statute of limitations, but Clash was compelled to step down from his role as Elmo's voice and puppeteer.
5 Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris was an Australian, living in England, working as a successful actor, musician, comedian, and television personality who became a famous children's entertainer.
The world was, then, shocked to learn that Harris sexually assaulted four girls between the ages of 7 and 19 over three decades.
In the summer of 2014, Rolf was found guilty of twelve counts of sexual assaults at his trial at Southwark Crown Court. The victims came forward after many years of silence to see justice served. One of Harris' victims was the 13-year old daughter of one his friends. Many other women reported sexual harassment, such as inappropriate touching and aggressive physical behaviour.
4 Jimmy Savile
Famed television presenter and media personality, Jimmy Savile hosted "Jim'll Fix it" and "Top of the Pops" on the BBC. He was also a successful philanthropist.
All the while, Savile was sexually abusing hundreds of children at the height of his fame, beginning as early as 1960 when he assaulted a boy who had asked for his autograph.
He carried out many other child molestations as a volunteer at Leeds General Infirmary. The peak of his child abuse lasted longer than a decade and carried on until 2011 when the scandal broke after his death. Scotland Yard cites more than 200 offences between 1955 and 2009, of which 73% were children. This went unchecked, despite - or perhaps because of - the fact that he was a leading media personality with the public eye closely trained on him.
3 Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski is famous such films as Chinatown. He's also known for the tragic murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, by the Manson Family in the 1970s. Polanski still makes movies today but has not set foot in America since fleeing to Paris due to allegations that he sexually violated Samantha Geimer, a 13-year old aspiring actress.
Polanski pleaded guilty in court to charges of having sex with a minor. Femeir claimed that on a movie shoot Polanski persuaded her to take her blouse off. He eventually persuaded her to drink wine and go into a jacuzzi where he performed oral sexual acts on the girl. He also took photographs of her topless, and then, shockingly, showed them to her parents.
2 Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby is a comedy legend who has entertained America and the world for decades with sitcoms "The Bill Cosby Show" and, more recently, "Kids Say the Darndest Things." However, throughout his career, Cosby has been accused of various acts of sexual assault that have included drugging women without their knowledge or consent.
One of many claims over a 20 year period came from Barbara Bowman who alleged Cosby sexually attacked her when she was a young actress in the late 1980s. In 2004, Andrea Constant filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby with similar accusations. The suit included 13 other alleged victims. He settled this suit out of court in 2006 for an undisclosed amount.
1 Woody Allen
Woody Allen is noted as one of the great comedy writers and filmmakers still alive today. He has written and directed dozens of critically-acclaimed films, many of which parody his neurotic and self-deprecating behaviour. However, he also an alleged child molester.
Dylan Farrow, the daughter of his ex-wife Mia Farrow, has gone public with claims that she was the victim of abuse by Allen. She alleges that Allen touched her inappropriately when she was only 7-years old. The claims sparked a court case with charges that were later dropped so Farrow would not have to go through with a testimony.