LONDON, UK — Jimmy Savile is accused of committing hundreds of sex crimes over more than 50 years, a police report released today reveals.
A three-month investigation into the late BBC presenter has gathered evidence of 214 offenses across the UK between 1955 and 2009, the report says, including 34 rapes.
The youngest known victim was just 8 years old, the oldest 47. Most were female and aged between 13 and 16.
Several of the crimes took place where victims were most vulnerable, according to police: in at least 13 different hospitals and psychiatric facilities, and 14 schools. In one case Savile is accused of assaulting someone as they visited a dying child in a hospice, the Guardian said.
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Commander Peter Spindler, in charge of the investigation for London's Metropolitan police, called the scale of the crimes "unprecedented in the UK," according to a statement.
Such was Savile's ability to commit widespread acts of abuse in the public eye that Spindler said the former DJ had effectively "groomed the nation," and used his fame to "hide in plain sight."
That fact, combined with the choice of vulnerable victims who were unlikely to speak out, led to Savile's offenses going unpunished for decades, the police report says.
It also acknowledges that when the majority of his suspected crimes took place, in the 1960s and '70s, "police investigation of such crimes was more basic and lacked the specialist skills, knowledge and the collaborative approach of later years."
GlobalPost's senior correspondent in London, Barry Neild, reports that the findings of the inquiry have led to a fresh outpouring of revulsion in the UK, despite blanket coverage of the issue in recent months.
Several members of the public emailed into the BBC to express their own dismay at how they felt betrayed by a celebrity, whose regular appearances on children's television shows endeared him to generations of Britons, Neild reports.
One person, identified as Rob, wrote:
I feel as if my own childhood has been somehow soiled by these revelations, even though I personally never met Savile.
Another, Cliff Pegg, wrote:
I am truly shocked at all of this. How can a man live in the public eye for so long and commit such terrible crimes on these poor individuals — unnoticed and undetected?
Britain's leading children's hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Savile is accused of carrying out at least one episode of abuse, called the report "extremely distressing." A second institution, Wheatfield Hospice, said it was "appalled and dismayed."
The BBC, on whose premises Savile perpetrated sex attacks for more than four decades, apologized again to victims and said it was “appalled” at the "shocking revelations of the report."
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A scandal involving the BBC's news coverage of Savile's activities last year prompted the resignation of its newly-installed director general, George Entwistle. It also raised questions about his predecessor's appointment as president of the New York Times.
Savile died in October 2011 at the age of 84, having never faced criminal charges. The accusations against him were first publicized in a TV documentary a year later.
British police have since arrested a number of other suspects in connection with their investigation into the allegations, Operation Yewtree.
Authorities must learn from the Savile case to better safeguard children and ensure that abusers are prosecuted in future, police said.
Barry Neild contributed to this report from London.