Former ‘Lawrence Welk Show’ Musician, Barely Punished for Child Sex Crimes, Has Released an Album

Child sex abuse is one of the most heinous crimes a person can commit. When a celebrity is accused or convicted of one of this crime, fans are rightfully horrified and angry. However, celebrities who commit awful crimes often get treated far more gently than one might think. When celebrities are arrested, it’s still possible for them to use past media to continue making money while serving time for their crimes. And sometimes, they escape punishment for their alleged crimes altogether — an infamous example being OJ Simpson.

Today, we’re a bit better about prosecuting celebrity abusers. However, one ex-TV star received little more than a slap on the wrist for his crimes and is continuing to release music today. Who is he, and why hasn’t he been punished for his crimes?

Lawrence Welk on stage in front of a band, under chandeliers
The Lawrence Welk Show | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

‘The Lawrence Welk Show’

RELATED: What Was Ed Sullivan’s Worth at the Time of His Death?

The Lawrence Welk Show was a variety show that began airing in 1951. Lawrence Welk came to fame decades earlier as a big band leader; his TV program became popular quite quickly. It first aired locally in Los Angeles, broadcast by a Paramount station, but when it went national in 1955, it switched to ABC. This continued until 1971 when ABC decided to stop airing the show.

But the show would live on: Lawrence Welk would start his own production company to continue the show, and it would be very successful in syndication. It would end in 1982 when Lawrence Welk was 79 years old and finally decided to retire, but Lawrence Welk would continue to be a major influence — including in parody on Saturday Night Live.

One of the big appeals of the show was its family-friendly nature. The acts on the show were all clean, and Welk referred to the musicians who repeated roles on the show as his “musical family.” The music was nostalgic — much of it was standards, religious, or country. For this reason, it was a family program, but it also appealed heavily to an older demographic.

Bob Ralston

Bob Ralston smiling, playing the piano on 'The Lawrence Welk Show'
Bob Ralston performing on ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ | ABC via Getty Images

RELATED: Here Is Everyone Corey Feldman Has Accused of Sexual Abuse in Hollywood

Bob Ralston was the main keyboard player for The Lawrence Welk Show starting in 1963, after appearing as a guest musician in the prior year. He was featured prominently on the show for his piano skills; on top of that, he released a large number of albums. After the show, he continued to play music, including in his church.

However, Ralston had a dark side. In 1984, he found a 13-year-old runaway in Times Square, and took the child to California and molested him there, as reported by the LA Times. There were accusations from other young boys as well, photographic evidence of further sexual abuse, and, according to UPI, evidence that he may have molested twenty other boys, and had been doing so for years.

Unfortunately, his sentence was incredibly light. Ralston only received five-years probation, in which he couldn’t interact with minors unless there was adult supervision. Most agreed that this sentence was essentially meaningless, and did not address the serious nature of Ralston’s crimes.

A new album?

RELATED: Rihanna Talks About Her Relationship With Chris Brown After His Infamous 2009 Assault in Resurfaced Interview

Bob Ralston continues to release music today. He released an EP in 2020 and his most recent album was released in 2016. Despite the nature of Ralston’s crimes, people continue to support his career — even praising it. One ironic Amazon reviewer described the music as “popular songs from the days when America was still civilized.” It’s sad to say that Ralston has more or less escaped justice for his crimes, and is still seen as the wholesome pianist from a family-friendly show. But with the advent of #MeToo and greater attention to how horrible child sex abuse is, perhaps more light will be shed on Ralston’s crimes.