ITHACA, NY – Within weeks of Cornell University announcing that they would be archiving the record collection of hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa, allegations of child molestation were leveled against the musician.

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Bambaataa, real name Kevin Donovan, is best known for releasing a series of tracks in the early 1980s, such as “Planet Rock,” that helped set the course for hip hop music and culture. He also founded the Universal Zulu Nation, an organization that saw reformed street gangs engage youth in their communities through music and dance.

Bambaataa served as a visiting scholar at Cornell from 2012 to 2015, a role which had him visiting the campus multiple times each year to speak in classes, perform and interact with students.

According to the New York Daily News, in late March, a former music industry executive named Ronald Savage released a self-published memoir in which he alleged that he had been sexually abused as a teen by Bambaataa. Soon after the initial allegation, three other men also came forward with similar claims.

A New York City based radio DJ since launched a petition urging Cornell to address the claims and cut ties with the musician until the allegations could be resolved.

“If Cornell accepts anything from Bambaataa, that’s like it is telling the world it supports child molesters,” Savage told the Daily News.

Bambaataa has since denied the allegations, claiming they are a conspiracy meant to smear his name.

“I, Afrika Bambaataa, want to take this opportunity at the advice of my legal counsel to personally deny any and all allegations of any type of sexual molestation of anyone,” Bambaataa told Rolling Stone. “These allegations are baseless and are a cowardly attempt to tarnish my reputation and legacy in hip-hop at this time. This negligent attack on my character will not stop me from continuing my battle and standing up against the violence in our communities, the violence in the nation and the violence worldwide.”

Cornell has thus far declined to comment on the situation.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.