There were plenty of clues that BBC TV and radio presenter Sir Jimmy Savile, who died last year, sexually abused girls throughout the decades — and by "clues," we mean multiple allegations — but no one dared challenge the famously eccentric star. Now that a documentary about the scandal is about to air, the BBC says they'll assist with a police investigation — but it's too little, too late.
Dee Coles is just one of up to ten women who told ITV news — which is airing a documentary tonight called "Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile" — that she was molested by the host. She was 14 and on vacation with a friend when Savile forced the girls to perform sex acts on him in a campervan.
"He didn't seem like a stranger. He was on our telly every Saturday night. It was exciting – with someone on TV," said Coles. "How it made me feel at the time? Immense panic as soon as the door locked. Afterwards, it was shame."
It also turns out that — shocker! — police in a number of counties had previously looked into accusations against Savile but dropped all of the cases due to "insufficient evidence." The BBC dismissed all allegations, too. Lord Michael Grade, who worked with Savile as a Controller at BBC1, said there were "question marks, certainly" but that he "never heard anything that gave me cause to think we should investigate or do anything about it. There were questions, but the entertainment industry is awash on a sea of rumours."
PSA: when there are question marks - plural! — regarding a coworker rumored to be a child molester, it might be a good idea to investigate.
Another woman said she saw Gary Glitter — a 70s pop star who was convicted of pedophilia decades later — having sex with an underage girl in Savile's dressing room at the BBC, and that she had been abused by another TV star when she was 14 in the same room. Funny thing: she actually told BBC's Newsnight that story last year, but Newsnight didn't air the story because it hadn't established any "institutional failure" around the Savile allegations. In retrospect, it seems they didn't look very hard. To say the least.
Even if there hadn't been a bevy of allegations, a few excerpts from Savile's 1976 autobiography Love Is An Uphill Thing seem like big enough warning signs that something creepy was up. Here's one:
A high ranking lady police officer came in one night and showed me the picture of an attractive girl who had run away from a remand home.
"Ah." says I all serious, "If she comes in I'll bring her back tomorrow but I'll keep her all night first as my reward.'
The law lady, new to the area, was nonplussed. Back at the station she asked 'Is he serious?'
It is God's truth that the absconder came in that night. Taking her into the office I said, "Run now if you want but you can't run for the rest of your life."
She listened to the alternative and agreed that I hand her over if she could stay at the dance, come home with me, and that I would promise to see her when they let her out. At 11.30 the next morning she was willingly presented to an astounded lady of the law. The officeress was dissuaded from bringing charges against me by her colleagues, for it was well known that were I to go I would probably take half the station with me.
Um, what? Did Savile just admit to coercing a runaway teenager into going home with him for the night — and to coercing an adult police officer (sorry, oficeress) into letting him do that due to the power he wielded? In his own fucking autobiography?
Let me tell you about the fun part of the charity deal. I got a call one day from the chairman of a local council. He'd got a new idea for the annual mayoral ball and wanted to turn it into a big youth dance. and would I come? For years the affair had been just a bit stuffy and only attracted a couple of hundred locals. He wanted 2,000 and did I have any ideas? Sure I had. Good ideas are my strong point. I will come, to Orley in Yorkshire it was, if you will arrange for me to sleep in a tent up the local hillside with another tent alongside with six girls to sleep there as my bodyguards!
My demands really put the dance on the map and 2,000 tickets went like hot cakes. My ultimatum of "no tents, no girls, no me" meant the council had to go through with it.
It seems like Savile was famous — and famously eccentric — enough to do whatever he wanted. Just listen to the man himself; he says so in his own words.
"Who would I have told? Who would have believed me?" Cole asked ITV, regarding why she stayed quiet for so long. "I was never going to see him again in my world and there was nothing I could do about it then."