London Police Say There Are About 300 Victims in Savile Probe

London Police Say There Are About 300 Victims in Savile Probe
People arrive to the British Broadcasting Corp. headquarters in London. Photographer: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Former British Broadcasting Corp. star Jimmy Savile, who’s suspected of sexually abusing children for decades before he died last year, may have targeted as many as 100 more girls than police suspected a week ago.

The number of potential victims increased to 300 from 200 when the Metropolitan Police Service opened a formal probe into Savile and other unidentified people on Oct. 19. While no one has been detained, officers are “preparing an arrest strategy,” Commander Peter Spindler said at a press conference today in London.

The revelations about Savile’s alleged behavior, broadcast in an ITV Plc documentary earlier this month, “have trebled the number of historic abuse claims,” Spindler said. “Some have yet to come forward.”

Police are investigating claims dating back as far as 1959 that Savile, who hosted BBC shows “Top of the Pops” and “Jim’ll Fix It,” abused underage fans and patients at hospitals where he sponsored charities. The claims are putting pressure on the world’s largest public broadcaster, and other institutions who appointed the entertainer to programs and positions that dealt with children.

Police in Yorkshire, England, have been interviewing Savile’s family, and Savile’s cottage in Scotland has been searched, Spindler said. Savile died a year ago this month at the age of 84.

Plain Sight

Savile was “hiding in plain sight,” Spindler said.

“Some of the victims just want to tell us what happened and leave it at that,” Spindler said.

Officers from the Met have spoken with 130 potential victims and are still contacting others, Spindler said. There are three categories of incidents, he said, including Savile acting alone, Savile acting with others, and others acting alone, he said. Spindler declined to give other details.

The possibility that victims may have alerted the Met to suspected abuse, only to have the claims ignored due to Savile’s popularity, “is something we are very alive to,” Spindler said.

A woman called the Met in 2003 to report Savile had “touched her inappropriately” in the 1970s, though she didn’t request an investigation be opened, Spindler said. A retired police officer has also come forward to say he probed claims about Savile in the 1980s, though no file of evidence exists about the case, Spindler said.

Police in Surrey, England, probed claims the TV star abused a girl at a children’s home in the 1970s, and sent a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2009, the agency said in a statement on Oct. 22. The CPS said it dropped the case without charges due to insufficient evidence.

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