By Anthony L Hall
All of England is still reeling with shock and indignation at recent revelations that Sir Jimmy Savile was a predatory pedophile (and an alleged necrophiliac).
Savile was the nationally beloved host of a number of BBC programs, including the very popular and long-running Top of the Pops
. But reports are that he sexually abused hundreds of young boys (and girls) throughout his 40-year career.
Anthony L. Hall is a descendant of the Turks & Caicos Islands, international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who publishes his own weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com offering commentaries on current events from a Caribbean perspective
Of course, chances are very good that most of you living outside the UK have no idea who Savile was. But just imagine the outrage here in America if we found out a year after Dick Clark died -- not only that he was a “predatory sex offender,” but that ABC blithely tolerated and even enabled his child sex abuse. Savile was that famous, and he cavorted with ease among British royals, politicians and celebrities alike.
But the analogy to Penn State is more relevant because of the actual similarities between the way it covered up the pedophile exploits of Jerry Sandusky and the way the BBC covered up Savile’s.
And BBC executives are only adding insult to injury by citing the cultural norms and practices of the day to excuse their complicity. For here, as reported by the BBC (October 23), is what its director general, George Entwistle, said in this respect during testimony yesterday before the Commons Culture Committee:
There is no question that what Jimmy Savile did and the way the BBC behaved in the years -- the culture and practices of the BBC seems (sic) to allow Jimmy Savile to do what he did -- will raise questions of trust for us and reputation for us
Far more troubling, though, was a report on Monday by Panorama
, the BBC’s own critically acclaimed current affairs program, which left no doubt that Savile was part of a pedophile ring that included other stars as well as top executives at the BBC -- some of whom may still be on the job … and still preying on children.
Top of the Pops programme was a centre of abuse -- and that Savile was not the only one involved.
Liz Dux, a lawyer for some of the victims, told Panorama: “The stories that I'm hearing from some of the victims are that they did report the abuse and that no action was taken.’
She added: ‘There are some quite serious allegations that a paedophile ring was operating.’
Frankly, nothing indicates that the BBC does not fully appreciate the depravity of what is being alleged quite like Entwistle insinuating that “the culture and practices” that tolerated corporal punishment of little children back “in the years” also tolerated the predatory sexual abuse of them.
Anyway, like Penn State (and, foremost, the Catholic Church), the BBC is now bracing for an avalanche of civil lawsuits. I just hope that UK officials emulate their US counterparts by making those who covered up for Savile pay not just with their job, but with their freedom as well.
Meanwhile, like those two institutions, I doubt there’s anything the BBC can ever do to reclaim its once-enviable institutional reputation and public goodwill. As for Savile, unfortunately, he died a year ago at age 84 without having to face any of the truth and consequences of his criminal behavior.