By now, you’ve probably heard about the enormous sexual abuse scandal dominating the news in the UK. Once-beloved national icon Jimmy Savile, who was knighted by both the Queen and the Pope, who worked for the BBC for decades, was accused of being a sexual predator. The news has shocked UK residents and brought shame to both the police, who brushed off allegations of abuse in the past, and the BBC, who employed this monster and ignored the warning signs for so long. Now, the full report on Savile’s crimes has been released and it’s even more disturbing that everyone had feared.
According to the British police, Jimmy Savile committed at least 214 cases of sexual abuse, including 34 instances of rape. His youngest known victim was an 8-year-old boy. His oldest was 47. Authorities say that 73% of his victims were under the age of 18 and that 82% were female. The fact that we have to talk about this man’s victims in percentages is downright appalling.
In many ways, Savile is reminiscent of an infamous American sexual predator. Like Jerry Sandusky, Savile involved himself with charities to help vulnerable children, putting him direct contact with a variety of victims who would be least likely to report abuse to the police. Also like the Penn State coach, Savile had a large, prestigious institution backing him up. Both men were so confident that their employers would look the other way, the committed crimes in their places of work.
Some, including those in Savile’s family, have raised concerns about calling the allegations against the star “proven.” They say that Savile isn’t here to defend himself, and that the details of the report done by the police shouldn’t be made public. As the New York Times reports, those conducting the investigation made a separate and equally compelling point.
But the authors, in effect, turned this argument on its head, saying that the “lack of criminal proceedings — and justice for victims” persuaded them that the information gathered in their three-month investigation “should be put into the public domain.”
As a result of the high-profile case, many people have been spurred into action. The police called this case a “watershed moment” in how they handle allegations of sexual abuse. The report noted that the police failed to act on previous accusations against Savile. The media coverage has given courage to other victims to come forward. Police officials say that 589 people have come forward to level accusations of sexual abuse, mostly against Savile, but also others. As a result of these reports, six other potential abusers are currently being investigated.
The sad truth is that this 37-page report tells a story even worse than most feared. Jimmy Savile abused anyone and everyone he possibly could over his decades in the limelight. As one detective put it, Jimmy Savile must have thought about abuse “every minute of every working day.” It is disappointing that he will never be brought to justice for his crimes, though I suppose we can be thankful that he is no longer able to hurt anyone else.