Just seven days before hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa’s 58th birthday, former music industry executive and author Ronald Savage has come forward accusing Bambaataa of sexual molestation.
In an exclusive interview with The New York’s Daily News, Savage 50, says he was just 15 years old when the “Planet Rock” artist began abusing him, inflicting deep emotional wounds that led to suicidal thoughts. Savage has lived with these claims for the past 36 years, and has broken his silence with the release of his self-published memoir Impulse Urges and Fantasies.
“I want him to know how much he damaged me growing up,” says Savage. “I was just a child. Why did he take my innocence away? Why did he do this to me?”
Savage–who was also a member of the Zulu Nation which Bambaataa founded–says he’s also speaking out because he wants to change the statue of limitations in New York, which prohibits sexual abuse victims from pursuing criminal charges or civil penalties after their 23rd birthday.
“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, who’s adamant about not wanting a payday from Bambaataa, says The Bronx native was 23 years old and already a well known and respected artist when he first began molesting him. According to Savage, there were five specific incidents that occurred, and yet he didn’t go to the police. It was only much later in life that he confided in his mother, ex wife and a few past girlfriends.
The first sexual assault took place at Bambaataa’s house, which he went to after skipping school one day. According to Savage, Bambaataa fondled himself and Savage. He then invited another man to join in. During a second incident, Bambaataa allegedly ordered Savage to perform oral sex on an older Zulu Nation member.
“I hated myself,” Savage says. “I don’t even know why I did that. I don’t even know how he got me to do that. It was like I was hypnotized.”
A call to Bambaataa by the Daily News was not returned, but his lawyer released a statement vehemently denying Savage’s claims.
“Defamatory statements were published seeking to harm my client’s reputation so as to lower him in the estimation of the community while deterring others from associating or dealing with him,” she said, referring to Savage’s book. “The statements show a reckless disregard for the truth, were published with knowledge of their falsity, and are being made by a lesser-known person seeking publicity.”
Savage says he escaped Bambaataa’s torment by pulling away from the popular and influential collective and swore to himself he would one day he wouldn’t go to his grave with this secret.
“I promised myself before I die, I’m going to let the world know what happened to me,” Savage said.