Teenagers were most likely to attract his depraved attentions but young children, pensioners, female hospital staff and men were not safe from him.
Jimmy Savile's degeneracy knew no bounds, with the DJ even telling one student nurse at Leeds General Infirmary that he had performed sex acts on bodies in the mortuary, though that cannot be verified. One-third of Savile's Leeds victims were under 16 and he stalked those up to the age of 75 in a series of assaults that began in 1962 and went on for 47 years; they included three rapes. At least five people were also attacked at Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital, two repeatedly.
This nauseating litany of unpunished crimes is distressing to consider, but consider it we must. Tempting as it is to look upon it as regrettable evidence of a bygone culture of complacency towards sex offences, the lessons of the Savile affair are more pertinent today than it might be comfortable to admit.
True, things were different in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Crimes of this nature were not nearly as widely discussed, and there was a more widespread tendency to dismiss allegations of abuse, especially if they came from children.
There is much greater awareness about the risks posed by sex offenders, a requirement for background checks on those working with children and far greater readiness to take allegations of abuse seriously; yet authorities in all settings with a responsibility for children and vulnerable adults should be asking themselves soul-searching questions. Might they be inclined to relax their rules on supervision and access for a famous person, especially one who has raised a lot of money? Do they do enough to support staff making the difficult decision to raise their suspicions about someone's abusive behaviour?
Savile insinuated his way into having unrestricted access to wards at Leeds Infirmary by playing the celebrity card and ensuring the hospital authorities felt beholden to him. He was a volunteer porter and raised £3.5 million for the hospital. He could access keys to various departments. This prolific sex offender hid in plain sight; his attacks ranged from lewd remarks and inappropriate touching to sexual assault and rape, and many offences took place in public areas such as corridors and wards.
Vetting schemes that identify risky individuals by looking at their criminal record and any suspicions raised about them by past employers cannot weed out every offender, so the vigilance of staff and public is crucial. Savile would have come to grief long ago if it were not for the reluctance of hospital staff to pass on patients' complaints about him to their managers. Labour's suggestion of a code of conduct on the relationship between the NHS and celebrities or business backers should be given full consideration by governments north and south of the Border.
Numerous people have been forced to relive traumatic incidents to complete this vile picture of the real Jimmy Savile; it is now up to the authorities and the public to ensure such abuse will not be repeated.
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