Former glam rock superstar Gary Glitter will be tried in Vietnam for commiting obscene acts upon children, dodging the more serious charge of child rape, which carries a potential penalty of death by firing squad, The Globe and Mail and Ireland Online are reporting this week. The trial is scheduled for February.
Child abuse and child pornography have been a recurring issue with the 61 year old Glitter (Paul Francis Gadd); in 1999, he was sentenced to four months imprisonment (and served two) for possessing over 4000 hardcore pornographic images of children as young as two on his computer.
Glitter’s biggest hit should be instantly familiar to anyone reading this; the tribal-sounding stompfest “Rock & Roll, Pt. 2”, co-written with producer Mike Leander, is played at nearly every sporting event in the country, is featured in nearly any movie that has a sports scene, and is played by every marching band in any stadium.
While his popularity in America was limited to two top-40 singles in 1972 (including “Rock & Roll, Pt. 2”), and his best selling album, Glitter (1972) peaked at #186, he remained popular and fairly beloved in England until his crimes were revealed.
Since then, there have been few who have fallen so far so fast; while details of Glitter’s past six years have been sketchy at best, what is known is pretty disgraceful; herein lays the story of ultimate rock star narcissism, taken to a tawdry, ugly, dead end.
His downfall began in 1997, when he took his computer to a Bristol computer shop for repairs. On it, a technician found images of hardcore child pornography and called police; the police characterized the photographs as “hard-core, sick and degrading” involving children as young as two being sexually abused, tortured, bound, gagged and blindfolded. In 1999 he was sentenced to four months in Horfield Prison, Bristol, and was released after two months.
Since his release, his whereabouts have raised red flags. He moved to Cuba briefly in 2000, but when the British press became aware of his location, he relocated to Cambodia.
In 2003 he was deported from Cambodia after allegations of child abuse cropped up there.
Glitter was arrested on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2005 as he tried to leave Vietnam for Bangkok from Tan Son Hnat airport in Ho Chi Minh City. The incident for which he was arrested involved sexual relations with a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl at his home. Although the younger girl has admitted Glitter paid her the equivalent of $9.50 for sex, she is below the age of legal consent. In all, six females in Vietnam between the ages of 11 and 23 have admitted to having sex with Glitter, according to Associated Press.
More serious capital charges were dropped after Glitter paid $2,000 each to the families of two Vietnamese girls, ages 11 and 12, who had accused him of coercing them into sex, the Bangkok Times reports.
While the charges carry a 12 year sentence, under Vietnamese law, criminals can be kept indefinitely until the local commune of authority is willing to let them back into society. Vietnamese prisons are known for their harsh, unsanitary conditions, manual labor, and compulsary and frequent repenting for one’s crimes, often in writing.
Even if Glitter is found not guilty, he can still be prosecuted in the U.K., where he is on the sex offenders register, under the 1996 Sex Offenses Act, which prohibits British citizens from engaging in “sex tourism”.
Glitter, despite having paid the families of two girls, denies any wrongdoing. Associated Press reported that Glitter maintains that when the girls came to his house, “he put them in the guest room. But in the middle of the night, they said they were very afraid of ghosts and they cannot sleep. So they came to his room and slept there,” according to Glitter’s Vietnam-based attorney, Le Thankh Kinh. At another time, when Glitter had told them emphatically that they could not enter his bed, “the girls explained to him that in Vietnamese families, the father, the mother and the children sleep in one bed,” the attorney said.
Glitter joins Eric Franklin Rosser, former keyboard player for John Mellencamp, on the rock ‘n’ roll sexual predators list. Rosser, who was profiled on America’s Most Wanted, was arrested in Thailand in 2001 by FBI agents.
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