Victims of Jimmy Savile, the former BBC TV presenter who after his death was unmasked as one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders, said they were ignored or laughed at when they tried to report that he had abused them, a report said.
Last year, police said Savile, one of the country’s best-known celebrities in the 1970s and 1980s, had sexually abused hundreds of victims, mainly youngsters, at hospitals and at BBC premises over six decades until his death aged 84 in 2011.
A report by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, found many of those Savile had targeted said authorities had dismissed their claims at the time of the abuse while others stayed silent as they feared they would not be believed.
The findings were released as lawyers representing 147 of his victims began action at London’s High Court yesterday to win compensation from a charitable trust set up in Savile’s name after his death.
“They (the victims) were ignored, dismissed, not believed, laughed at and astonishingly told in some cases they should feel lucky he had paid them attention,” said Peter Watt, the NPSCC’s director of national services.
“Half a century on, the world finally discovered just how dreadful his crimes were — something these men and women had known all that time but felt powerless to do anything about.”
Detectives say Savile used his fame as a TV presenter and dedicated charity fundraiser to gain access to children.
Numerous reports have since been commissioned into how Savile was able to get away with his crimes.
Last March a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, the body which monitors the police, said it was seriously concerned about mistakes made by police forces, while an inquiry in 2012 cleared BBC bosses of covering up allegations against Savile but said it had missed warnings.
A lengthier analysis into BBC failings is due later this year.
The NSPCC report was based on revelations from 26 victims, aged between eight and 26 when they were assaulted, who detailed the lasting impact of their abuse, with some turning to drink and drugs, and others disclosing mental health illnesses or contemplating suicide.
Other ageing celebrities are now facing criminal action from a police investigation launched in the wake of the revelations.
Veteran DJ Dave Lee Travis said his “nightmare is now going to go on” as he learned he is facing a retrial on charges of indecent and sexual assault.
The former BBC presenter was cleared of 12 counts of indecent assault earlier this month but jurors at London’s Southwark Crown Court were unable to reach verdicts on two further charges and were discharged.
Yesterday, Judge Anthony Leonard heard prosecutors are seeking a retrial on the outstanding charges and a further hearing will take place on March 28.
Outside court, Travis told reporters: “I told you [on February 13] that I’d been through 18 months of a nightmare and apparently I was wrong because the nightmare is now going to go on.
“All I can say is, this whole thing started when I was 67 and I just hope that it’s going to end by the time I’m 80.”