Radio talk show host Art Bell says he’s retiring for good
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Radio talk show host Art Bell announced Saturday that he is retiring for a second time – and for good – over false allegations that he is a child molester.
Bell, whose ”Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell” is America’s most popular overnight radio program, made the announcement to his estimated 15 million listeners.
”For myself, an ordeal looms ahead to clear my good name of accusations I committed a crime, committed against my own son,” Bell said.
Bell said his son, Art Bell IV, was kidnapped and raped in 1997 by a substitute high school teacher who was infected with the AIDS virus. The boy was 16 at the time.
The teacher, Brian Lepley, was sentenced in May 1998 to life in prison.
”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,” the Nevada-based broadcaster said. ”God knows, I have tried.”
His last broadcast will be the night of April 26 and the retirement will be permanent, Bell said.
”It would be unfair to all of you not to give you my full-time best. I can no longer do that,” Bell told listeners.
Bell’s program, heard on more than 400 stations nationwide, deals with topics ranging from space aliens to FBI and CIA conspiracies. The program will continue with a new host, said Premiere Radio Network, Inc., which syndicates ”Coast to Coast.”
Bell first announced his retirement in October 1998, mysteriously citing ”a threatening, terrible event” suffered by his family but offering no details. Two weeks later, he was back on the air.
On Saturday, Bell said the event was the attack on his son, which sent his family into a deep crisis and the teen-ager into a ”psychological tailspin which continues to this very day,” Bell said.
Bell also alleged that a few months after the attack, WWCR, a worldwide Christian short-wave radio station based in Nashville, Tenn., allowed the broadcast of false rumors that he is a child molester.
Such rumors have spread, Bell said, and he continues to receive on-air calls from listeners asking if he is child molester.
A manager at WWCR who declined to be identified said Saturday he had no immediate comment on the allegation.
Bell broadcasts his program out of his home in the small desert farming community of Pahrump, 60 miles west of Las Vegas.
Premiere Radio Networks, Inc., which syndicates the show, is based in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles. It also syndicates programs by Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Michael Reagan.
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