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UK police report 50 years of Savile sex abuse

Authorities allege TV star Jimmy Savile committed more than 200 sexual crimes, including rape, between 1955 and 2009.
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2013 19:18

British police say that Jimmy Savile, the late BBC star presenter, was a "predatory sex offender" whose victims were as young as eight years old, according to a newly released extensive report.

Savile preyed on children and adults in hospitals and even a hospice, according to the report, released by the police and child protection services on Friday.

The television presenter was accused of having committed more than 200 sex crimes over more than half a century, from 1955 to 2009.

Police and child protection authorities found Savile used his celebrity status to "hide in plain sight", but that he could have been prosecuted.

Police says the scale of Savile's sex abuse was "unprecedented in UK".

They have recorded 214 offenses committed by Savile, including 34 rapes. In all, 450 people have come forward with information about abuse by the late TV presenter.

Victims ranged from a 10-year-old boy sexually assaulted after he asked for an autograph to children groped when they attended a popular music show.

Commander Peter Spindler of the Metropolitan Police said Savile's offending was "vast, predatory and opportunistic".

Savile allegedly abused victims at 57 medical establishments, including mental care facilities and a hospice, as well as 14 schools and 33 television or radio studios; 73 percent of his alleged victims were under 18. Eighty-two percent of his alleged victims were female.

Police found no "clear evidence" suggesting Savile was part of a paedophile ring.

'Mainly opportunistic'

"The details provided by victims of his abuse paint the picture of a mainly opportunistic individual who used his celebrity status as a powerful tool to coerce or control them, preying on the vulnerable or star-struck for his sexual gratification," the police report said.

Peter Watt, a director at the UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and co-author of the report, said that the scale of Savile's abuse "simply beggared belief".

"Since the Savile scandal broke we have seen a surge in contacts about child abuse, both past and present, with many victims speaking out for the first time," he said.

"Almost 800 additional children have been protected from abuse because of the publicity around this case prompted people to contact our helpline. We are optimistic that this signals a watershed moment for child protection in this country. We must seize the opportunity if we are to make a lasting change."

Al Jazeera's Simon McGregor-Wood reporting from London said:

"One of the things the report doesn’t adequately explain is the extent to which Jimmy Savile was able to perpetrate these crimes while existing at the heart of some of the UK's most trusted institutions."

"The BBC, the NHS various hospitals, were all locations where he enjoyed an enormous level of trust and he used that trust as a cover to perpetrate that the crimes that the police have today called the "collision of power” and vulnerability," he added.

Savile, one of the BBC's biggest stars of the 1970s and 80s received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth for charity work. He died in 2011, aged 84, a year before allegations about his abusive behaviour emerged in a TV documentary.

No charges were ever brought against the BBC entertainer, who hosted several popular shows during his long career.

The BBC has faced heavy criticism for its coverage of the allegations against Savile. A lengthy report last month cleared of the organisation of any cover-up but said it had missed numerous warnings and proved incapable of dealing with the scandal when it finally broke.

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