ITV has made a documentary about the allegations surrounding Jimmy Savile’s abuse of young girls, some as young as 13.
The accusations are abhorrent, but probably among the least surprising of any allegations ever made about a celebrity. My first thought on hearing of the documentary was that Savile, who died a year ago, is being tried by television. It seemed unfair that these allegations were only coming to light once he wasn’t around to defend himself.
Many journalists and TV ‘insiders’ have come forward to claim that they “had suspicions” or that “everyone knew” or that they had “seen things that weren’t quite right”. Where were they at the time? It seems that Jimmy Savile fixed it for himself. He had achieved ‘national treasure’ status and threatened to cease his charity work if revelations about his private life were made public.
Too many people, over 40 years, have turned a blind eye. People who worked with him at the time claimed he called the shots and that broadcasters and newspapers lived in fear of him. Esther Rantzen admitted that she and others “blocked our ears to the gossip”.
A BBC producer has admitted to walking in on Savile kissing a 14-year-old girl with his hand up her skirt while she sat on his lap.
A recent police investigation into one historic case of sexual abuse of a young girl in Staines was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service due to “insufficient evidence”. Yet there is, it seems, plenty of evidence, even without the testimony of the victims of Savile’s vile acts.
Why did the grown-ups not speak out at the time? To my mind, they must carry some of the responsibility. They could have spoken out decades ago and put an end to the misery and humiliation that Savile’s behaviour has caused. Five women give evidence in the documentary. Who knows how many others were abused and manipulated by Savile during his showbiz years?
Let’s remember that Jimmy Savile wasn’t always the foul, frail figure he seemed to be towards the end of his life. He was one of the biggest celebrities of his day. Girls may have thrown themselves at him. That doesn’t make the abuse their fault. He was the adult. He took advantage of vulnerable children and no one said a word.