Savile Abused Women, Children in 14 Hospitals, Mental HomesErik Larson
The late British Broadcasting Corp. television star Jimmy Savile committed more than 200 criminal sexual-abuse offenses at the BBC, in schools and in more than a dozen hospitals, mental homes and a hospice, police said.
Savile, who died in 2011, engaged in the conduct until at least two years before his death when he put his hand up the skirt of a 43-year-old woman on a train, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a report. His youngest victim was an 8-year-old boy and most were girls between 13 and 16, it said.
“Savile’s offending footprint was vast, predatory and opportunistic,” Commander Peter Spindler said at a press conference in London today. “He cannot face justice today, but we hope this report gives some comfort to his hundreds of victims.”
The BBC was plunged into crisis after competitor ITV Plc aired a story in October about five women who said they were abused by Savile. Former BBC Director General George Entwistle stepped down Nov. 10 as a result of the scandal, which includes claims the BBC dropped an earlier news investigation into Savile’s abuse and instead aired tributes following the 84-year-old TV star’s death.
Savile wasn’t prosecuted while he was alive, even after four women made reports to two U.K. police departments in 2007 and 2008, in which they described abuse when they were children. Police and prosecutors could have filed criminal charges against Savile if the cases had been handled properly, the Crown Prosecution Service said in a report today.
In addition to starring on “Top of the Pops,” Savile, who started working at the broadcaster in 1965, also hosted the BBC’s “Jim’ll Fix It,” where he granted wishes for children. His celebrity status and activity for charities allowed him access to children in hospitals and schools, police said.
One of his final known acts of abuse was against a child during the filming of the last episode of “Top of the Pops” in 2006, according to the Met’s report.
“The police report into Jimmy Savile contains shocking revelations,” the BBC said in a statement. “As we have made clear, the BBC is appalled that some of the offenses were committed on its premises.”
While police heard from 450 of Savile’s victims after the scandal erupted, only 214 have resulted in crime reports because some victims want to remain anonymous or don’t remember enough details. The recorded crimes include 126 “indecent acts” by Savile and 34 rape or penetration offenses, including 28 against children, the MPS said.
In 1960, Savile “seriously sexually assaulted” a 10-year-old boy in a hotel after he asked the star for his autograph, the Met said. In 1972, a 12-year-old boy and two of his female friends were groped by Savile during a break in the filming of “Top of the Pops.”
“It would be wrong to think the likes of Jimmy Savile are a rare breed -- they are not,” Peter Saunders, of the child-abuse victims’ support group NAPAC, said at the press conference. “Some people spend their whole lives abusing.”
Police departments in the English counties of Surrey and Sussex failed to tell victims during probes in 2007 and 2008 that other complaints against Savile had been made and prosecutors didn’t make any effort to “build” a case after the victims declined to testify, the CPS said in its report today.
If a different approach had been taken, trials could have been possible in three of four instances where woman came forward, the CPS said.
The CPS started the probe after it was widely criticized for failing to follow up on complaints about Savile years before allegations that he sexually abused hundreds of women and children emerged in October. The women in the earlier cases said they would have considered testifying if they had known they weren’t the only ones.
“These cases do not simply reflect errors of judgment by individual officers or prosecutors on the facts before them,” Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said in a statement. “These were errors of judgment by experienced and committed police officers and a prosecuting lawyer acting in good faith.”
London police started Operation Yewtree, with 30 detectives, to investigate historic sexual-abuse claims against Savile and other celebrities, including people that weren’t connected to Savile and allegedly abused on their own.
Officers focusing on the entertainment industry have arrested at least 10 people in the probe. Celebrity publicist Max Clifford, who has represented O.J. Simpson and David Beckham, was arrested, along with singer Gary Glitter and former BBC disc jockey Dave Lee Travis.
The CPS said in November 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.