‘Invisible’ predator Savile’s reign of terror

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HOSPITALS across England and Wales were exposed to the horrors of Jimmy Savile’s abuse, and nowhere more so than in his home county.

I thought I was the chosen one - one of Savile’s Leeds hospital victims

Jimmy Saville at his home at Roundhay, Leeds in 2011. Picture by Simon Hulme

Jimmy Saville at his home at Roundhay, Leeds in 2011. Picture by Simon Hulme

They just laughed at us: Savile’s 60 victims at Leeds Infirmary

Accounts of Savile’s reign of terror at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI), where his youngest victim was just five years old, proved some of the most harrowing among the catalogue of abuse detailed in reports from investigations into a total of 28 NHS institutions.

Testimonies from 60 people revealed the disgraced late DJ raped three people and sexually assaulted and inappropriately touched staff and patients between 1962 and 2009, when he was 82.

In one case, his young teenage victim was thought to be pregnant. When Savile was identified as the potential father, he coached her to threaten suicide if staff refused her request for an abortion.

Throughout his long association with LGI he was a regular visitor and had keys to various wards and departments and his own office. It was with this unrestricted access, investigators found, that he was able to enter the mortuary and perform sex acts on dead patients.

The independent investigation interviewed more than 200 people and reviewed more than 1,300 documents from LGI, run by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. It found three people, possibly hospital employees, helped Savile to arrange his abuse.

Despite the fact Savile was said to be open about his interest in young girls, victims tended to keep silent because they felt “they had brought it on themselves” and would not be believed because of Savile’s fame.

The report concluded: “By the 1980s and 1990s, he was regarded by many as ‘part of the furniture’. This gave him something akin to invisibility in the hospital, which enabled his abusive behaviour to continue unseen for years.”

Further investigations from trusts across the region brought to light more detail of his abuse and lewd behaviour at hospitals in Dewsbury and Wakefield, High Royds Hospital, a former psychiatric hospital in Leeds, De La Pole Hospital in Hull and Whitby Memorial Hospital.

A victim told investigators how Savile had attempted to climb on top of her and kiss her when she was a 15-year-old patient at the former Staincliffe Hospital in Dewsbury as she lay in bed.

She told police: “Savile lifted his right leg and stretched it across my bed... in a gesturing way as if to straddle me. This made me feel very uncomfortable. I remember 13 people were laughing at him; they seemed to find it funny.”

When Savile visited High Royds for its centenary celebrations in 1988, Savile put his hand up the skirt of a 44-year-old service user at the mental health facility and did the same to a nurse.

On the same day, a female member of staff, who was aged 20 and in St Trinian’s fancy dress at the time, recalled him lifting her skirt and those of colleagues and cupping their breasts.

Teams investigating allegations relating to Broadmoor psychiatric hospital also found “clear failings” in the way access to wards was controlled, as Savile had keys allowing him unrestricted access to ward areas.

It was noted that Savile sometimes watched as female patients undressed for baths in the wards, and at other times looked through doorways while making inappropriate comments.

Savile’s attitude towards women was seen as part of his public act, “just Jimmy”, the report found.

Among other hospitals investigated were Moss Side, in Liverpool, where two female former patients accused Savile of sexually abusing them on a ward and a third allegation came from a male ex-patient who claimed that he witnessed Savile stroke a patient’s breast at a social event.

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