LONDON (Reuters) - Dave Lee Travis, a leading BBC radio DJ in the 1970s and 1980s whose shows once delighted Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, escaped jail on Friday despite being convicted of a “nasty” indecent assault on a television researcher.
Travis was the latest ageing British celebrity to be convicted of sex crimes in the wake of revelations that the late Jimmy Savile, one of the BBC’s top TV presenters, had sexually abused hundreds of victims over decades.
The 69-year-old Travis, who had been found guilty on Tuesday, was told by the judge that the offense warranted three months in prison, but that the sentence would be suspended in consideration of Travis’s poor health and the impact of the conviction on his job prospects, among other factors
“It was a nasty thing to do but it was more than that. It was an intentional and unpleasant sexual assault,” said Judge Anthony Leonard.
“You took advantage of a young woman in a vulnerable position whose job it was to look after you that day.”
During two trials, Travis, appearing under his real name of David Griffin, was cleared of a string of sexual offences against women over three decades. However, he was convicted of one charge of assaulting the 22-year-old victim in 1995.
“You pinned her up against the wall and started to touch her rib cage and then slid your hands up over her breasts and her clothes, and started squeezing them,” Leonard said.
Travis had denied all the accusations, describing himself as a “big, hairy, cuddly bear” who was tactile but not a sexual predator. He accused the women of making up the claims to make money.
“Whilst I‘m relieved that I’ve been able to prove that I‘m not a sexual predator, I‘m mortified and I am really disappointed that I was convicted of one count,” he told reporters on leaving court.
“It’s of little comfort to me that I was acquitted of so many others.”
Among his fans was Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, who singled out his weekly show on the BBC World Service for making her world “much more complete” during her 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Kevin Liffey