British TV star Jimmy Savile abused hundreds over six decades: police report

Reuters, LONDON

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 - Page 7

The late British TV presenter Jimmy Savile physically abused hundreds of people over six decades, according to a police-led report yesterday, which said he carried out attacks at the BBC and at hospitals where he did voluntary work.

Of his victims, 73 percent were under 18 and 82 percent were female. The oldest was 47 and the youngest just eight.

“Savile’s offending footprint was vast, predatory and opportunistic,” Commander Peter Spindler told reporters.

Savile, one of the BBC’s biggest stars of the 1970s and 1980s received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth for charity work. He died in 2011, aged 84, a year before allegations about his abusive behavior emerged in a TV documentary.

Yesterday’s report said he had committed 214 criminal offences, including 34 rapes or serious sexual assaults across the country.

His offending first occurred in 1955 in Manchester and the last attack was in 2009, the report said. He abused people at the BBC from 1965, including in 2006 at the last recording of popular weekly show Top of the Pops. He also targeted people at hospitals over 30 years from 1965, including at the renowned Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London.

“It is now clear that Savile was hiding in plain sight and using his celebrity status and fund-raising activity to gain uncontrolled access to vulnerable people across six decades,” the report said.

In all, 600 people had come forward to police with information of which 450 related to Savile.

The report, issued jointly by London police and the NSPCC children’s charity, said it was likely there would be more victims who did not feel able to come forward.

Yesterday’s report is one of 14 launched since the allegations about Savile emerged, including four at the BBC.

A parallel report drawn up by senior prosecutor Alison Levitt and also published yesterday faulted officials for not pursuing allegations against him more vigorously. Levitt’s report noted that several women had spoken to police about Savile between 2007 and 2008, but no charges were brought, in part because the women declined to testify in court.

Levitt said police could have tried harder to get them to speak out, noting in particular that the women weren’t told that other victims had corroborated their accounts.

“Having spoken to the victims I have been driven to conclude that had the police and prosecutors taken a different approach a prosecution might have been possible,” she wrote.

Additional reporting by AP