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UK's Savile abused hundreds over six decades -report

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 11 Jan 2013 10:45 GMT
Author: Reuters
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LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The late British TV presenter Jimmy Savile physically abused hundreds of people over six decades, according to a police-led report on Friday which said he carried out attacks at the BBC and at hospitals where he did voluntary work.

Of his victims, 73 percent were under 18 and 82 percent were female. The oldest was 47 and the youngest just 8.

"Savile's offending footprint was vast, predatory and opportunistic," Commander Peter Spindler told reporters.

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.

Friday's report said he had committed 214 criminal offences including 34 rapes or serious sexual assaults across the country.

His offending first occurred in 1955 in the northern English city of Manchester and the last attack was in 2009, the report said. He abused people at the BBC from 1965 including in 2006 at the last recording of popular weekly show Top of the Pops.

He also targeted people at hospitals over 30 years from 1965, including at the renowned Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London.

"It is now clear that Savile was hiding in plain sight and using his celebrity status and fund-raising activity to gain uncontrolled access to vulnerable people across six decades," the report said.

In all, 600 people had come forward to police with information of which 450 related to Savile.

The report, issued jointly by London police and the NSPCC children's charity, said it was likely there would be more victims who did not feel able to come forward.

Friday's report is one of 14 launched since the allegations about Savile emerged, including four at the BBC.

The revelations about Savile plunged the BBC into weeks of turmoil and led to resignation of the publicly funded broadcaster's director general just 54 days into his job.

OTHER STARS QUESTIONED

Detectives have also been looking into allegations against Savile acting with others and into related sex crimes which had no direct link to Savile.

They have since questioned 10 men, including Jim Davidson, a comedian who hosted prime time shows on the BBC in the 1990s, former BBC radio DJ Dave Lee Travis, and Max Clifford, Britain's most high-profile celebrity publicist.

They all deny any wrongdoing.

A one-time professional wrestler, Savile became famous as a pioneering DJ in the 1960s before becoming a regular fixture on TV hosting prime-time pop and children's shows until the 1990s.

He also ran about 200 marathons for charity, raising tens of millions of pounds for hospitals, leading some to give him keys to rooms where victims now allege they were abused.

While many colleagues and viewers thought the cigar-chomping Savile was weird, with his long blonde hair, penchant for garish outfits and flashy jewellery, he was considered a "national treasure", honoured not just by the queen but also by the late Pope John Paul II who made him a papal knight in 1990.

Despite rumours and suspicions, his sex crimes only came to light when rival broadcaster ITV aired allegations against him.

That prompted allegations the BBC had covered up allegations of sex abuse after it was revealed it had dropped its own expose shortly after Savile's death and had run tribute shows about him instead.

A lengthy report last month cleared of the BBC of any cover-up but said it had missed numerous warnings and proved incapable of dealing with the scandal when it finally broke.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)

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