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Jimmy Savile Sexually Abused Hundreds, Police Report Concludes

Jan 11, 2013

British TV personality Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011, was a sexual predator who abused hundreds of victims on a scale that is "unprecedented" in Britain, according to a comprehensive police report on the disgraced celebrity. The report by a team that included 30 detectives found that Savile exploited "the vulnerable or star-struck for his sexual gratification."

The case received widespread attention on Oct. 4, 2012, when British broadcaster ITV aired a program in which five women said they had been abused by Savile in the 1970s. Three of them said the abuse occurred at BBC facilities.

The accusations led to the creation of a task force, named Operation Yewtree, the day after the program aired. It also sparked tumult at the BBC, where Savile worked between 1965 and 2006.

The arrival of the report three months after the ITV broadcast in which the women made their accusations against Savile. The report is titled "Giving Victims A Voice." Here are some of its findings:

  • 450 people came forward with information related to Jimmy Savile.
  • 214 crimes were formally recorded, spanning 28 jurisdictions.
  • The reported abuses occurred between 1955 and 2009, most of them in Leeds and London.
  • 82 percent of those who came forward are female.
  • 73 percent of Savile's victims were under age 18; 27 percent were adults.
  • The victims' ages at the time of the abuse ranged from 8 to 47.

"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's authors wrote. Police say "the locations where victims report being abused include 14 medical establishments (hospitals, mental care establishments and a hospice)."

Last month, NPR's Philip Reeves provided described Savile's place in Britain's cultural landscape — and detailed how that had changed:

"In his life, Jimmy Savile was celebrated by the British as a national treasure. He became a household name as a white-haired, cigar-puffing and generally rather weird TV presenter. His charity work, especially with children, won him a knighthood and, if not the nation's affection, certainly it's respect."

"In his death, Savile has an altogether different reputation. Police suspect him of several hundred crimes, including dozens of rapes. In fact, Sir Jimmy Savile may have been one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders."

Police say that while they cannot punish Savile for his crimes, the victims might find some solace in knowing that "There are now recorded offences naming Savile as the suspect from 1955 to 2009."

"Savile's offending footprint was vast, predatory and opportunistic. He cannot face justice today but we hope this report gives some comfort to his hundreds of victims, they have been listened to and taken seriously," MPS Specialist Crime Investigations Commander Peter Spindler said.

Police officials say that the increased public awareness due to the investigation into Savile's offenses has brought a spike calls to its helpline, a phenomenon they say resulted in nearly 800 children being protected from abuse. The report says "a significant number of suspects" have been identified.

"We are optimistic that this signals a watershed moment for child protection in this country," said Detective Superintendent David Gray, Operation Yewtree's Senior Investigating Officer and an author of the final report. "We must seize the opportunity if we are to make a lasting change."

Police say that the report released Friday details only the allegations made directly against Savile. The operation also uncovered accusations against those with ties to Savile, as well as claims that aren't related to the late TV personality. Those investigations are continuing.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.