Police: BBC Entertainer Jimmy Savile Committed More Than 200 Sex Crimes
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
When the British TV star Sir Jimmy Savile died in 2011 at the age of 84, his country honored him as a hero. It was a national scandal last year when evidence emerged that Savile was, in fact, a sex criminal. And there was anger over the fact that he was never called to account. A three-month investigation ensued and today, those investigators spelled out the scale of Savile's abuses over six decades. NPR's Philip Reeves has the details.
PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Debra Coga had a troubled childhood. She ran away, and wound up in a children's home. Jimmy Savile was a regular visitor. Forty years have passed since then. Coga still remembers everything.
DEBRA COGA: He would bring records, sweets and cigarettes; and eat with us, give us our treats.
REEVES: Coga dreaded Savile's visits.
COGA: I hated him.
REEVES: Other girls in the home warned Coga that Savile was a sexual predator. Her description of him portrays a man confident he was famous enough to get away with it.
COGA: You know, you'd sort of look at him, out the corner of your eye, and see where he was; circling the room. He'd be like - I'd describe it as picking a chocolate, you know. He would sort of sidle around the room until he decided who he wanted to molest.
REEVES: One day, Savile picked her. She was 14. Coga became one of hundreds of Savile's victims.
(SOUNDBITE OF "TOP OF THE POPS")
REEVES: Savile was among Britain's best-known entertainers. He rose to fame in the '60s. His huge success in show biz, and particularly as a charity fundraiser, won him a knighthood. He was honored by the pope. Today, the scale of Savile's crimes was laid out in stark detail. London's Metropolitan Police, and a children's charity, published the results of a three-month, joint investigation.
This found most of his victims were children. Many, though far from all, were girls. Most were between 13 and 16. The youngest was 8. Police have logged more than 200 crimes committed by Savile over six decades, including 34 rapes. That makes him the most prolific sexual predator on police record, says Commander Peter Spindler(ph) of Scotland Yard.
CMDR. PETER SPINDLER: His footprints of offending across the U.K. is unprecedented, in our recording of so many crimes against so many people.
REEVES: Savile committed these abuses in hospitals, in schools, and on the premises of the British Broadcasting Corporation, his employer for decades. Revelations about his activities, last year, triggered a crisis at the BBC; made worse because it shelved an investigative story exposing Savile as a sex criminal.
The allegations against Savile have never been tested in court. Yet, says Spindler, so many victims separately tell the same story that Savile's criminality is beyond doubt.
SPINDLER: It would be beyond belief to say that they've all made it up. You can actually see his abuse in some of the TV programs. The victims have highlighted it. There's an example from "Top Of The Pops," where you can actually see him abusing on-camera.
REEVES: Numerous investigations are now under way in Britain, into why Savile was never brought to justice. Some of his victims did complain to the police. Police and prosecutors have vowed that sex abuse victims won't be ignored in future. Spindler again.
SPINDLER: This sordid affair shows the tragic consequences of what happens when vulnerability collides with power. And we need to learn the lessons from this, to make sure this never happens again.
REEVES: Police say they hope that by shining a light on Savile's crimes, today's report will bring some comfort to the many he abused. For at least one victim, that's worked. Debra Coga says she's glad that 40 years on, the truth about Savile is out.
COGA: It's helped me - and I'm sure it's helped a lot of others, too - just to be able to finally be believed.
REEVES: Philip Reeves, NPR News, London.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.