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Celebrity status saved Savile

There are reports of Jimmy Savile’s involvement in child abuse cases on almost every news site in the UK. Jimmy Savile, a famous TV personality, passed away last year. He is accused of sexually abusing nearly 200 girls and one boy. Most of the cases date back to the 1960s and the 1970s and complaints are pouring in nearly one year after he died.

Jimmy Savile was a TV presenter with BBC. During his lifetime he was known for his philanthropy. But now the reports that are coming in and some decade old videos of Jimmy Savile suggest otherwise. Why didn’t these accusations come up during his life time? In the 1970s, there were claims against the BBC presenter for molesting an underage girl at a children’s home, but he was not arrested by the Surrey police. The reasons remain unknown. Had they arrested Savile at that time, a number of other victims would have come forward to register their complaints. In 2009, the Surrey police submitted the file on Savile to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), where three other cases of abuse were added.

According to the CPS, all allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile dating from the 1970s were investigated but not pursued. The reason was that none of the alleged victims were willing to support a prosecution. Why? May be because they feared embarrassment or thought that nobody would believe them.

Savile allegedly used the BBC and the National Health Service (NHS) hospital as his playground for years. According to reports, when he was volunteering as a porter at NHS, he abused sick and disabled children. There were people who had suspicions but turned a blind eye to it. A news website has quoted a victim saying this was because “he raised millions of pounds for the hospital.”

The BBC is considered a symbol of journalistic ethics. The Savile scandal has become a matter of serious concern for the news provider. For years they didn’t do any thing about it. Many among Savile’s colleagues say that they had no evidence against Savile which is why they didn’t speak up. The charge that Savile was able to commit child abuse within the premises of the corporation is shocking. After all this, aborting the investigative story against Savile and portraying him as a saint instead has raised questions about the integrity of the corporation. The BBC has been doing great work over the years but this incident seems to suggest that free and fearless journalism within the organisation is non-existent. This might lead to the loss of public trust and confidence the BBC boasts of.

Now that the BBC Director General has admitted that there are nine more people involved in cases of sexual abuse, there is a chance that a kind of network existed with Savile at its center. The BBC even ran a show last Monday investigating the sex scandal within the corporation. Very few media organisations have the courage to carry a story about the inside scandals. This is one thing that can be appreciated in the times when criticism is pouring in from all corners.

One thing that needs to be mentioned is that BBC is not the only organisation that should be blamed for saving Savile. People at the NHS knew what the star TV presenter was doing. They kept their lips sealed. They didn’t want the inflow of money that had begun after Savile’s visits to stop. The BBC has atleast apologised to those victimised within the premises, although the NHS has straightaway declined to apologise. Savile knew how to manage things. He presented himself as a saint to the world but behind the mask, he was a very sick person.

Forget the BBC and the NHS. Where were the tabloids at that time? Now, the answer would be that they were afraid that nobody would believe. It is true that child sex abuse in most of cases goes unreported. In this case the abuser was a celebrity. Why didn’t the tabloids go after him? We know the extent to which tabloids go in the name of public interest.

The celebrity status of Savile saved him over the years. There were rumours at times that he was paedophile. Whenever he was questioned by the media he would always say that he doesn’t respond to anything that’s not true. It is shameful that nobody could do any thing about it for decades and the number of victims only grew.

Things like these are bound to happen when people keep mum and the media stops caring. When the criminal is a celebrity and people are under his spell, crimes like this become endemic. The saddest part in the whole scandal is that it has come to light very late, especially for the girls who faced abuse silently for years. It doesn’t matter if the number of victims is 200 or two, what matters is that Savile abused them. What is most disturbing is that many people knew about it but never reported. The scandal has taught us lessons that shouldn’t be forgotten, at the very least. All we can hope for is that the police starts arresting the other victimizers soon.

Author: Ronaq Zahoor

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


31.10.2012 | 13:22