Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

The cloak of shame that hid Jimmy Savile's secret desires

FILE - OCTOBER 01, 2012: ITV is scheduled to broadcast a documentary this Wednesday, "Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile", in which allegations are presented that the former television presenter and disc-jockey sexually abused teenage girls. 5th November 1973: Jimmy Savile OBE, British disc jockey, television broadcaster and charity fundraiser. (Photo by R. Poplowski/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

So now the BBC - the high-minded British Broadcasting Corporation - stands accused of having facilitated and covered up the crimes of the late Jimmy Savile in molesting and raping young teenage girls.

BBC luminaries, such as Esther Rantzen and Paul Gambaccini, have wrung their hands and admitted that 'everyone' knew about Savile's penchant for young female flesh.

Ms Rantzen, who famously founded Childline, broke down in tears last week and said: "We all colluded with him. Didn't we?"

Other BBC colleagues, also now dead, such as the respected John Peel, are suspected of collusion.

Peel spoke openly about having sex with young girls, referring to it as a "perk" of being a DJ. There are claims there was a 'network' at the BBC for 'procuring' girls and women who remember being molested or raped are now queuing up to tell their stories.

One 15-year-old, Claire McAlpine, committed suicide after leaving a diary naming various DJs as sexual abusers. Why did no one go to the police?

Partly, because the first reaction of almost any institution is to cover it up - we know that the Catholic Church did. When a sex-abuse claim surfaces, the first thing the offender's family does is reach for a cloak.

I learned this when I interviewed the mother of a paedophile once. When it emerged her son had committed an offence against a 12-year-old girl, her first reaction was to pull strings to get the court case heard well away from home base. Not very edifying, is it?

No: but it's what people do. From shame. From fear. Sometimes from a belief that it would 'harm the common good' - some in the BBC feared the charitable work that Savile had done, collecting millions for hospitals, would dry up if there was a scandal.

And some, back in the 1970s and 1980s, didn't think having sex with underage youngsters was such a big deal. As John Peel said: girls threw themselves at him.

There was also a landmark ruling, in the House of Lords in 1985, that girls under 16 were permitted to obtain contraception without their parents' knowledge.

The Pill for 14- and 15-year-olds without parental consent was a cause supported by the Family Planning Association and most of the liberal media.

But once that judgment - the Gillick ruling - went on the record, the legal age of consent at 16 was fatally weakened. If kids could access free contraception at 14 and 15, it followed that they were entitled to be sexually active.

There is also something else which has to be considered - the power of sexuality itself. Young people are often sweet and lovely in their early teens, with a fresh bloom of youth that is never again recaptured.

Agencies recruiting models deliberately go looking for girls of 14, 15, and 16, because these ages represent the zenith of unspoiled, even guileless, beauty.

And for the same reason, civilisations have often protected young females; until relatively recently, young girls in Latin countries routinely had chaperones.

Because it was understood that young flesh is a huge temptation to men like Jimmy Savile, who are by no means unusual, in being compulsively drawn to that first bloom of youth.

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