EXCLUSIVE: Afrika Bambaataa sex abuse accuser Ronald Savage details years of torment following hip-hop icon’s molestation: ‘He damaged me’
As one of the artists who helped invent the music that exploded out of South Bronx block parties and Boys Club dances, hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa was already a New York legend in the late 1970s.
Ronald Savage was just a kid thrilled to be part of the burgeoning Bronx hip-hop scene when he met Bambaataa, whose 1982 hit “Planet Rock” helped turn rap into a global phenomenon. But the thrill of hanging out with the influential artist evaporated quickly, Savage says, when Bambaataa sexually abused him in 1980, inflicting deep emotional wounds that continue to torture him to this day.
The former music industry executive and author says he struggled privately with intimacy and struggled with suicidal thoughts for decades from the abuse that occurred when he was 15 years old, but he broke his silence in recent weeks with the release of a self-published memoir entitled “Impulse Urges and Fantasies” that includes the explosive Bambaataa allegations as well as a YouTube interview with urban radio veteran “Star” that has rocked the hip-hop world.
“I want him to know how much he damaged me growing up,” says Savage, 50, who was known as “Bee Stinger” when he was running with the Zulu Nation, the international hip-hop organization Bambaataa founded in the 1970s.
“I was just a child,” he told the Daily News. “Why did he take my innocence away? Why did he do this to me?”
Savage says he’s speaking out because he wants to change New York’s statute of limitations, which bars child sexual abuse victims from pursuing criminal charges or civil penalties after their 23rd birthday. He’s not looking for a payday, he says, but he does want relief from the secret that has haunted him from years — and he wants to prevent children from suffering like he has.
“I think the statute of limitations is unfair for victims,” he says. “It took me all of these years to speak about this. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed.”
Savage, also a Bronx Democratic Party activist, says Bambaataa was 23 years old and already perhaps the best-known ambassador of the burgeoning Bronx hip-hop scene when the rap star molested him 36 years ago. Bambaataa abused him at least five times, Savage says, but he did not go to the police or tell anybody else, although he says that years later, he did confide in his mother, ex-wife and several former girlfriends.
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