Late BBC Host Jimmy Savile Had 'Fascination' With Corpses, Report Finds
Witnesses told probes into sexual abuse claims against him that he said he had rings made from glass eyes taken from dead bodies, posed with corpses for pictures and performed sexual acts on them.
LONDON – Britain's health department on Thursday published reports about a slew of investigations of sexual abuse claims against late BBC host Jimmy Savile.
The wide-ranging probes were carried out at 28 health institutions, including Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary, with which Savile had long-standing associations and were he was found to have had regular access.
"I want to apologize on behalf of the government and the National Health Service," health secretary Jeremy Hunt said about the publication of the reports.
The Leeds report found 60 cases of abuse by Savile involving female and male victims who were 5 to 75 years old at the time. Offenses ranged from "lewd remarks" to sexual assault and three cases of rape, according to the report. Only nine victims told staff members.
One theme of the reports was Savile's apparent fascination with corpses.
The report from the Leeds hospital cited witnesses who told investigators that Savile told them he owned two big rings made from glass eyes taken from corpses. "Whether these claims were made merely to shock his listeners, they again indicate and reinforce the notion of Savile's fascination with the bodies of the deceased," the report said.
The report also cited a former nurse as saying Savile had talked about spending time at the morgue to pose dead bodies for pictures and perform sexual acts on them.
"His words were to the effect of ‘What what we often do is get ourselves down into the morgue at night and have a muck about,’ " the nurse is quoted in the report as saying. "Depending on what’s down there at the time...we can get them out and, and he, he went on to relate how they set the bodies — he kept saying "they," so he, he couldn’t have been on his own with this — how they set the bodies...that what happens when before you — well, rigor mortis sets in — you can move the body into different, sort of, stances or formations. And, apparently, he was saying that they used to put the bodies together, male and female, and he also said that they took photographs and also that he got involved in some of the photographs."
Added the nurse, according to the report: "He used the phrase that you don’t — it’s not so common nowadays, he talked about gamaroosh.... It means oral sex.... Well, that he, he’d go down on them and gamaroosh and muck about in that way."
The report concluded: "We have no way of proving Savile's claims that he interfered with the bodies of the deceased patients in the mortuary in this way." But it acknowledged "a lack of stringent procedures regarding the mortuary...until the late 1980s at the earliest."
The report noted that there were accounts of Savile having access to the morgue and taking bodies there in his role as a volunteer. He was also friendly with the late chief mortician and visited him socially, according to the report.
"We established that Savile visited the mortuary in his role as a volunteer porter and that he visited it socially to meet his friend.... However, we also heard more macabre accounts of Savile speaking and possibly acting unacceptably in relation to the mortuary," the report concluded. "We have been unable to ascertain the exact level of inappropriate access.... In light of the claims about the glass eye jewelry and Savile's interference with the bodies of the deceased, it is evident his interest in the mortuary was not within accepted boundaries."
Savile for a while also held a managerial post at Broadmoor. Britain's Department of Health apologized Thursday for the "wholly inadequate procedures" that allowed this to happen.
A report on an internal BBC probe is expected later this year and is expected to state that the late radio and TV host sexually abused "many hundreds and potentially up to 1,000 people" while working for the U.K. public broadcaster.
Savile, who died in 2011, was host of TV chart show Top of the Pops and a DJ for the BBC's Radio 1. Late in 2012, abuse claims against him became public, causing a crisis at the BBC.