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LONDON — The extent of the alleged sexual abuse carried out by former Top of The Pops host and BBC stalwart Jimmy Savile was laid bare Friday with the publication of the findings of an official policy probe.
It said that authorities have so far recorded 214 crimes and about 450 overall complaints of abuse.
The 30-page report, entitled “Giving Victims a Voice,” from London’s Metropolitan Police, better known as Scotland Yard, and a children’s charity, made for grim reading for the public, the U.K. public broadcaster and Savile victims.
About three quarters of victims were kids, most were between 13 and 16 years old, and the youngest child cited among the abuse victims was eight, according to the report.
According to the police, the total number of Savile victims could be about 450, with most of them alleging sexual abuse. So far, 214 crimes have been recorded across 28 police force areas, including 34 of rape, police said. The report cited 33 cases of abuse in TV or radio studios, which are all believed to be BBC premises.
The investigators say the accounts paint a “compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender.”
Several of the alleged incidents happened on BBC premises, including the iconic BBC Television Center in West London, the location for the filming of children’s program Jim’ll Fix It, which Savile used to host. Among the findings, the report said that offenses were carried out at the BBC between 1965 and 2006 – including at the last BBC Top of the Pops recording, prior to the show going off the air.
“Peak offending” took place between 1966 and 1976, the report noted, and abuse came mainly in the form of “mainly opportunistic sexual assaults” by Savile.
The findings are a result of Operation Yewtree, the name given by the police to the investigation following allegations leveled at the former BBC stalwart in an ITV documentary. The report said senior officers met with the ITV production team, “and it became apparent that in addition to the five women who had agreed to appear on the program, a further 15 may have been victims.”
The police investigation then escalated from there on the back of serious media attention and the volume of victims coming out. The police are looking at alleged abuse by Savile on his own, Savile in connection with others and others on their own.
“It is now clear that Savile was hiding in plain sight and using his celebrity status and fundraising activity to gain uncontrolled access to vulnerable people across six decades,” the report said. “For a variety of reasons the vast majority of his victims did not feel they could speak out, and it’s apparent that some of the small number who did had their accounts dismissed by those in authority.”
The scandal, which continues to rock the BBC and provoke outrage across the U.K., contributed to the resignation of BBC director general George Entwistle after just 54 days in the job and led to awkward questions for his predecessor Mark Thompson, who recently took over as chief executive of the New York Times.
The allegations against Savile prompted a series of investigations, including a trio at the BBC and another by the Department of Health into his role in hospital abuse cases.
A report late last year by former Sky News chief Nick Pollard into the dropping of a BBC Newsnight investigation into Savile said the decision was “flawed” and plunged the broadcaster into “chaos and confusion.”
Savile died in October 2011 at age 84, a year before the abuse allegations emerged.
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