* Extent of sex crimes by late TV presenter Savile worse
* Savile targeted children with one victim as young as two
* BBC awaiting report on Savile as victims take legal action
By Belinda Goldsmith
LONDON, June 2 Late British television presenter
Jimmy Savile was a far more prolific sex offender even than
previously suspected, a charity said on Monday, abusing children
as young as two and targeting victims in a high-security
Savile, a major BBC celebrity and charity fundraiser in the
1970s and 1980s, was unmasked after his 2011 death aged 84 as
one of Britain's worst sex offenders. He preyed largely on
children at hospitals and BBC premises, relying on his celebrity
status to deter or block any complaints.
The revelation shocked Britain and plunged the
publicly-funded BBC into crisis. A 2012 report cleared BBC
bosses of covering up allegations against Savile but a police
watchdog report last year voiced concerns about police mistakes.
It prompted a wider inquiry into sex crimes by ageing
showbusiness figures, with 17 arrests made and Australian
entertainer Rolf Harris on trial on 12 indecent assault charges.
Research by the National Society for the Protection of
Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) showed on Monday there had been at
least 500 reports of abuse by Savile, compared to a suspected
140, with most victims aged 13-15 but the youngest just two.
Peter Watt, the NSPCC's director of child protection, said
there was no doubt that Savile was one of the most, if not the
most, prolific sex offender that the charity had come across.
"He was manipulative, arrogant, and controlling .. Savile
escaped justice because people didn't want to hear or believe
what children were saying," Watt said in statement.
Watt said it was incredible that people were still coming
forward more than 60 years later to report Savile, an eccentric
character famed for his long blonde hair, cigars, and penchant
for garish outfits and flashy jewellery.
He said Savile, who presented various TV shows including
"Top of the Pops" and "Jim'll Fix It" as well as supporting a
list of charities, started as a predatory sex offender when he
was in his teens and continued into his 80s.
The new NSPCC figures, commissioned for BBC show Panorama,
will be broadcast later on Monday along with details of
confidential Department of Health documents showing the extent
of Savile's influence over the psychiatric hospital Broadmoor.
Savile became involved with hospital through a charity in
the late 1960s and was later given his own keys and a house in
the grounds. Thames Valley police said they had received 16
reports of abuse by Savile inside Broadmoor.
The West London Mental Health NHS Trust which now runs
Broadmoor told the BBC it would be premature to comment on
specific allegations against Savile while a joint investigation
by the NHS Trust and the Department of Health was in progress.
The Panorama investigation also found the BBC had launched
an inquiry into allegations of inappropriate behaviour at the
broadcaster in the 1970s but advice about supervising youngsters
coming to see Top of the Pops was not acted upon.
A BBC spokesman said the corporation was "appalled" at
Savile's crimes and was awaiting a review by former Court of
Appeal judge Janet Smith that is considering the culture and
practices of the BBC during the years of Savile's fame.
Lawyers representing around 140 of Savile's victims have
started legal action in London to seek compensation from a
charitable trust set up in Savile's name after his death.
(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Ralph Boulton)