Art Bell Resigns
The following is the announcement of Art Bell's resignation as aired last night, April 1/2000.
"In order that you all understand the gravity of the announcement I'm about to make, it's going to be necessary for me to repeat some very painful events that have occured to my family over the past several years.
On May 16th of the year 1997, my son, Art Bell IV, was kidnapped, transported across state lines and raped by a substitute teacher from his own high school. The assailant was HIV positive. My son was a minor. He was only 16 years old at the time.
The teacher involved was tried, convicted and is now serving a life sentence. My son though, as you might imagine, was sent into a psychological tailspin which continues to this very day. We are trying very very hard to help him recover and lead a more normal life. Some positive events have occurred toward that end and your prayers are welcome. Please keep them coming.
While the police work and the trial of my son's assailant were underway, difficult as it was for me to continue my daily radio programs, I did so. Because my son was a minor at the time of the crime, the records were sealed, his name was not made public, something our society does to protect its own, its future, its young people.
As our family was working through this trauma in private, an event beyond all bounds of decency and humanity occurred. On December 9th of 1997, just a few months after my son's ordeal, my own began. Ted Gunderson, a retired FBI agent, along with David Hinkson and the assistance of others, aired a broadcast which - incredibly, absolutely incredibly - accused me of committing the very same crime my son had suffered, child molestation. The program further stated that I had paid to cover up an indictment in Nye County, Nevada, my home. It further urged listeners to call me "on air" and ask if I had been indicted. Of course, these accusations were entirely false. But, never the less the calls poured into my open line unscreened program, asking if this was true. I had no choice but to block out all these calls and keep my silence for fear of my son's situation becoming public. This broadcast was made on WWCR, world wide shortwave radio, in Nashville, Tennessee. This station has been described by newpapers and civic minded organizations as one of the country's leading broadcasters of hate radio. The individuals, WWCR and its sister-station WNQM, have allowed to broadcast over the airwaves, include a man who wrote a book entitled "The Hitler We Loved And Why" and another man who stated over the airwaves that Jews are the children of Satan and that African-Americans are "mud people".
In addition to broadcasting these proponents of hate and violence, this radio station has consciously decided not to spend money on a delay switch, not to conduct a careful background check of the people it places on the air and to allow individuals to say almost anything they want in foreign languages without having staff on duty who can even understand what they are saying.
In my opinion, WWCR is one of the most irresponsible stations permitted to broadcast over the airwaves of this country.
Now the fallout from that broadcast has been unbelievable. Besides the unrelenting accusatory calls, others repeated this false rumor as though it was fact, resulting in several related lawsuits. Many of you may have heard my defense played out on the airwaves and the Internet.
No matter how hard I have tried to set the record straight, my torment and that of my family continues. Recently, a radio host in Toronto, Canada opened his morning show with the words "I am Art Bell and I molest little children". All of this sent me into a psychological tailspin. I felt I had been dealt a blow I might not recover from. Still I continued my nightly broadcasts as best I could.
In October of 1998, my son came to a crisis point, a situation so critical that nothing but my full-time attention would help. So, on that fateful day, October 13th of 1998, I resigned on air with no intention of returning. But thanks to the efforts of my network, my best friend Alan Corbeth, Kraig Kitchin (CEO of Premiere Networks) and Randy Micheals [CEO of Clear Channel], I was able to return, but the pressure of having to defend myself against baseless, vile claims that I was a child molester eventually forced me to reduce my on air hours. Why the individuals behind the December 9, 1997 broadcast by WWCR decided to make such a patently false and harmful broadcast remains for the courts to decide. A major moment in this litigation is going to occur April 28th in Nashville, Tennessee. If justice prevails, a trial, perhaps a protracted one, may follow. It would be untrue for me to say this has not affected my air work, it has. It would be unfair to all of you, not to give you my full-time best. I can no longer do that. The reality that after suffering the fate of my son's own molestation, I now stand destined to be tainted for life as a child molester, has proven simply too much to bear. God knows, I have tried.
For my Son, I pray that somehow his wounds will heal, his mind's troubles fade into something of a normal life. For myself an ordeal looms ahead to clear my good name of accusations I committed a crime, committed against my own son. Nobody ever said life would be fair, only to be lived as the hand is dealt to you. For all the years of joy my work has provided, I want to thank all of you and whatever creative force allowed it.
I have decided to retire from the broadcast business at the end of this month, my last show to be April 26, 2000.
I will not do any media interviews on this subject. I have already said more than any private person would have said, a private world I now look forward to returning to. Any further questions should be addressed to my attorney Gerard Fox at the law firm of Fox, Siegler & Spillane in Los Angeles at (310) 229-9300."
-- Art Bell