In the three months since the late British TV presenter Jimmy Savile was accused in a commercial television exposé of sexually abusing underage girls at the height of his fame, the scandal has spread to include other people and institutions. As outrage grew across the U.K., the public’s attention gradually shifted from Savile to his long-time employer, the BBC, and several of his former friends and associates, some of whom have been arrested or questioned by police. But on Jan. 11, the focus returned to Savile when the Metropolitan Police and the leading children’s charity NSPCC released a report detailing the extraordinary number and extent of the former celebrity’s crimes.
The report, called “Giving Victims a Voice,” laid out the discoveries that Scotland Yard made in its investigation into Savile, painting a “compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender.” The report found that the former star had committed 214 crimes, including 34 rapes, over the course of decades, with the first recorded offense occurring in 1955 and the last in 2009, when the presenter was in his 80s. It also found that the majority of Savile’s victims were female and under the age of 18, with many falling between the ages of 13 and 16. The youngest recorded victim was an eight-year-old boy.
According to the report, Savile used the protection afforded by his fame and his reputation for charity work to commit these offenses, which took place at 13 different mental-health facilities and hospitals including London’s renowned hospital for sick children, Great Ormond Street Hospital. Savile also abused victims on BBC premises, where he hosted radio and television shows, including Top of the Pops. In total, Savile’s crimes took place across the 28 police jurisdictions.
Coinciding with the release of Scotland Yard’s report, the Crown Prosecution Service also revealed a review on Friday, that examined the circumstances surrounding the 2009 decision not to prosecute Savile. Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, revealed in a statement that Savile could have been prosecuted based on complaints made by three people, but authorities in Surrey and Sussex were overly cautious with the victims’ accounts. “I would like to take the opportunity to apologize for the shortcomings in the part played by the CPS in these cases,” Starmer said in his statement. He added that a more “robust response” was needed in dealing with future sexual abuse cases.
Friday’s reports are only two of several inquiries being made into both Savile’s crimes and the fallout of the scandal. But while Scotland Yard’s report may have indeed worked to give victims a voice, it can’t erase the fact that Savile, a man who was revered during his lifetime, can never face justice for his crimes.
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