About 450 people have told U.K. police they were sexually abused by the late British Broadcasting Corp. television star Jimmy Savile, including 31 women who claim he raped them.
Investigators probing “historical” abuse claims have recorded 199 crimes involving Savile in 17 local jurisdictions since the scandal emerged in October, a year after the entertainer died at the age of 84, the Metropolitan Police Service in London said today in an e-mailed statement.
“These levels of reporting of sexual abuse against a single individual are unprecedented in the U.K.,” the Met said in the statement. “The majority of work in relation to offenses reported against him acting alone has now been completed although further victims may yet come forward.”
The BBC, the world’s largest public broadcaster, was plunged into crisis after competitor ITV Plc aired a story in October about five women who said they were abused by Savile as children. Police are probing claims dating back as far as 1959 and as recent as 2006, including that Savile, who hosted BBC shows “Top of the Pops” and “Jim’ll Fix It,” misused his status as a charity worker to abuse hospital patients.
Officers focusing on the entertainment industry have arrested seven people in the probe, including suspects who may not be connected to Savile. Celebrity publicist Max Clifford, who has represented O.J. Simpson and David Beckham, was questioned last week. Other people detained include singer Gary Glitter and former BBC disc jockey Dave Lee Travis.
In addition to Savile’s alleged victims, 139 people have come forward to report abuse by someone else in the industry during the time period in question. Most of the alleged victims were “children or young people” when the abuse happened and 82 percent are women, the Met said.
“Our response should send a clear warning to anyone today now in a position of power and influence who abuse their status to sexually exploit children and young people -- victims will be listened to and robust action taken,” Commander Peter Spindler said in the statement.
Police and prosecutors are reviewing their past handling of complaints involving Savile when he was still alive. The Crown Prosecution Service decided in 2009 against charging Savile with sex abuse because four women who came forward decided not to testify. The claims were never made public.
The CPS said last month that Cyril Smith, a former member of Parliament who died in 2010 at the age of 82, should have been charged with sex abuse in 1970, after eight men accused him of abusing them when they were living in a children’s home. The decision to not charge Smith wouldn’t have been made today, prosecutors said. That case isn’t part of the Savile probe.
The Met said reports of sex abuse have increased across the country since the Savile investigation started.
Former BBC Director General George Entwistle stepped down Nov. 10 as a result of the Savile scandal, which includes claims the BBC dropped an earlier news investigation into the claims and aired tributes to the TV star shortly after his death.
The BBC appointed former Court of Appeal Judge Janet Smith and ex-British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc journalist Nick Pollard on Oct. 17 to head internal investigations. Victims’ lawyers have said they may sue the BBC over claims it’s liable for Savile’s wrongdoing.