I’ve lost count of the number of reports published about the sexual abuse cases with the BBC. I dutifully read each article in the New York Times, cut it out and wonder when the reporting will end. Sure, it’s a scandal. Sure, those in positions of power and influence shouldn’t have ignored or hidden the story. Sure, I know that the whole affair is sleazy even as I watch reporters look to find an end to the shame inside the much admired British Broadcasting Corporation.
The question that swirls around in my mind, which none of the articles answers, is if people in positions of authority knew what was going on, why didn’t they call attention to the truth? And does what they knew and didn’t tell make them partially guilty of the BBC’s disgrace?
It reminds me of Misprision of Felony, an old fashioned legal term, infrequently invoked in modern cases when it comes to a situation with a husband and wife, but that’s still on the books.
Cornell University Law School defines it as follows: Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/4
In the bad ole days of 2005 – 2007, the prosecutor tried to intimidate me, frighten me into telling the authorities some additional dirt that would implicate me or paint my then-husband with greater guilt. It worked, in that I was terrified, but as I knew nothing, could tell him nothing new.
The government would have had to prove that he was guilty and that I had knowledge of what he was doing, that I had failed to notify the authorities and had taken steps to conceal his crime. None of that was the case, but the feds were in hot pursuit for more outrage. After all, the investigators had to do their jobs, part of which was to look for others who might be participating with my then-husband in his criminal behavior.
The threatened arrest, because of misprision of felony, may have been a dead-end possibility from the beginning, but was another form of intimidation that kept the pressure on. It kept alive the possibility that they could arrest me for something terrible that would take away my freedom, remove me from my family, and end my life as I knew it.
What fears do those at the BBC have, as they cooperate with the powers that be and yet hope that the authorities find nothing more, and if they do, that it has nothing to do with them?