A tsunami of child sex allegations against the BBC’s most popular icon, Jimmy Savile threatens to drown the BBC, one of the most revered institutions in Britain. Savile died last year at age 84 was known as the hugely popular, outlandish, cigar-chomping television host of children and rock music television shows in the 70s and 80s. Next to the royal family, he was one of the most famous people in England. His charity work earned him a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth, as well as the unprecedented papal knighthood bestowed upon by Pope John Paul II. Saville is now being accused of sexually assaulting girls as young as 12, many on the premises of the BBC. Thus far, over 300 complainants have come forward to accuse Savile of sexually abusing them when they were underage girls.
Like many prominent figures who are accused of sexually abusing children, the investigation has taken a sordid turn as allegations surface of a BBC coverup of Savile’s sex crimes. Police are describing Savile as a serial predator whose alleged crimes which police say took place over six decades and were on an “unprecedented scale.”
The disgusting allegations surrounding Savile have shaken the British public to its core. More shocking are the latest revelations are that the BBC not only protected Savile for decades, but recently cancelled the airing of its own investigative expose and documentary about Savile’s child sex crimes. The British government has begun several investigations into the allegations about Savile, and whether the BBC covered up and protected him.
Like every good pedophile, Jimmy Savile was known for his tireless charity work. He used his celebrity status to support children’s hospitals and children’s mental institutions. Savile was known as the indefatigable fundraiser who would frequently visit these facilities. Countless women who were children in these facilities are now coming forward and alleging that they were sexually abused as children by Savile when he visited the hospitals. Jimmy Savile visited so frequently that that he was given the keys to these institutions, free rein to roam the halls and property, and enjoyed his own personal room on the grounds. According to the women, Jimmy had the run of the place and everyone gossiped about Jimmy’s predatory behavior. None of the adults spoke out because Sir Jimmy was the great charity worker, a fundraiser extraordinaire.
As the details of Saville’s decades long abuse of children enfold, the common refrain is how could he get away with these horrendous crimes. Why didn’t anyone say anything? Why didn’t anyone stop him?
It seems that behind every prominent pedophile is an institution that protects its brand at all costs. Jimmy Savile’s television programs were immensely popular and generated enormous revenue. His Top of the Pops television show served as a valuable BBC brand. Tragically, the television show which featured rock stars and young girls provided a perfect hunting ground for this child predator. When his stable of victims ran low on the show, Savile would turn to the vulnerable children hospitalized and institutionalized. Over the years, he had crafted the perfected cover with his invincible celebrity and charitable works. Not surprisingly, the children were acutely aware of his celebrity status and knew that no one would believe them if they disclosed Savile’s abuse.
When looking at TV highlights of Saville, one sees a flamboyant, weird, creepy looking guy always gawking for the camera and nearly always surrounded by young girls. The clips from his rock music program show him constantly grabbing, kissing, hugging young girls. The guy was downright creepy. How did he allegedly get away with 6 decades of serial rapes of children? The question is reminiscent of Jerry Sandusky’s unrestricted reign of terror.
The similarities between Jimmy Savile and Jerry Sandusky are striking. Their behavior provides a classic predator profile.
Victims: Both men sought out vulnerable and disadvantaged children to sexually abuse. A predator knows that a child from a disadvantaged background rarely has an advocate, and can be marginalized by a powerful and prominent man. If the child disclosed abuse, the predator would deny the abuse and blame the “troubled child.”
The Cover: Both men cloaked themselves with the impenetrable shield of respectability and generosity for their work in charitable organizations. The Second Mile Charity gave Sandusky access to kids and the ability to hide behind good works. Jerry was known for his heart of gold. Savile, too, enjoyed godlike status for his charity hospital work.
Believe Your Eyes: People saw Savile in the act of sexually abusing girls, but said nothing. People saw Sandusky surrounded by young boys who showered with him in the PSU locker room. People saw Sandusky abusing boys. Yet, Jerry roamed free. Witnesses are intimidated into silence for fear of being wrong, the revulsion over the crime and pure unadulterated cowardice. Trust your eyes and report suspicious behavior to the police.
Grooming Behavior: Savile would groom his victims with tickets or guest appearances on his show and then would abuse them in his dressing room. Sandusky would groom his victims with football tickets, sports equipment, countless gifts. The grooming would quickly lead to sexual assault.
Institutions: Predators seek out highly esteemed institutions which will provide them the mantle of respectability. Savile found the BBC, Sandusky landed at Penn State. It is an important part of the cover story and another layer of deceit. Don’t be fooled.
Police Investigations: Both men were investigated by the police. Sandusky was investigated in 1998 and 2001. Savile was the subject of a police investigation in 2007. Those investigations went nowhere, and neither man was fired from the institution, which was a missed opportunity. Were the police also blinded by prominence and celebrity?
Rumors: There were constant rumors about the predatory behavior of these men. The adage, where there’s smoke, there’s fire; and with these guys there was a conflagration. Rumors should be thoroughly investigated by authorities.
Remember this: Predators never stop, can’t be cured, and constantly hunt for new victims. They are not safe until they are in the grave or permanently locked behind prison bars. Savile took his secrets to the grave like most predators, since few children ever disclose abuse. Sandusky will die in prison.
Admittedly, the institutions created these mythic figures that were invincible and untouchable. Our culture and its institutions elevated these vile men to prominence for the benefit of the institutions at the tragic expense of vulnerable children. It is time to rip off the disguise and recognize perversion. The predator’s cloak of deceit is woven with a pattern of celebrity, institutional protection, and charity. How long will the mask of evil lure us with its famous face and carnal heart?
“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
© Elizabeth Yore-2012 All Rights Reserved.
Elizabeth Yore is the former Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc.where she served as Oprah Winfrey’s Child Advocate. She was also the former General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.