UK's Savile abused hundreds over six decades -report

LONDON Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:20am EST

LONDON Jan 11 (Reuters) - The late British TV presenter Jimmy Savile physically abused hundreds of people over six decades, according to a police-led report on Friday which said he carried out attacks at the BBC and at hospitals where he did voluntary work.

Of his victims, 73 percent were under 18 and 82 percent were female. The oldest was 47 and the youngest just 8.

"Savile's offending footprint was vast, predatory and opportunistic," Commander Peter Spindler told reporters.

Savile, one of the BBC's biggest stars of the 1970s and 80s received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth for charity work. He died in 2011.

Detectives launched their inquiry three months ago after allegations about his abusive behaviour emerged in a TV documentary.

Friday's report said he had committed 214 criminal offences including 34 rapes or penetration offences across the country.

His offending first occurred in 1955 in the northern English city of Manchester and the last attack was in 2009, the report said. He abused people at the BBC from 1965 including in 2006 at the last recording of popular weekly show Top of the Pops. He also targeted people at hospitals between 1965 and 1995.

"It is now clear that Savile was hiding in plain sight and using his celebrity status and fund-raising activity to gain uncontrolled access to vulnerable people across six decades," the report said.

The revelations about Savile plunged the BBC into weeks of turmoil and led to resignation of the publicly funded broadcaster's director general just 54 days into his job. (Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)