The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Former BBC-TV host accused of sexually molesting children

Shocking new developments out of England have rocked the BBC. Former BBC Television host Sir Jimmy Savile has been accused of sexually molesting more than 200 victims, mostly children, over several decades.

Savile, who died last year at the age of 84, was the host of popular shows such as “Top of the Pops,” and was also recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for his humanitarian work.

These new accusations came to light in broadcasts this month by ITV, an independently run company who rivals with the state-funded BBC.

Some reports show that the BBC not only tolerated Savile’s actions but also enabled them. Director-General of the BBC George Entwistle testified before the Common Cultures Committee – one of the select committees of the British House of Commons – condemning the actions of both the BBC and Savile.

“There is a broader cultural problem at the BBC (that) in the past had allowed the abuse by Savile,” Entwistle said at his hearing.

Last month, the BBC’s critically acclaimed current affairs program Panorama reported that there is zero doubt that Savile sexually molested children. Even more, the report noted that Savile was part of a pedophile ring. This ring included other stars and top executives at the BBC, some of whom may still be on the job.

Liz Dux, an attorney for some of the victims, condemned the actions of the BBC in an interview with the 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,” said Dux. “There are some quite serious allegations that a pedophile ring was operating.”

The accusations against Savile are comparable to recent accusations made against Kevin Clash, the puppeteer and voice of Elmo for 32 years. Clash had been accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a then 16 year-old boy. Clash vehemently denied the accusations, and the victim has since rescinded his claims. Since then, two more accusers have surfaced.

Although Clash has not been convicted, he still feels that his reputation had been too tarnished by the claims and has since resigned from his long-time post as the voice of Elmo.

In a statement released to the media, Clash said that “personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the popular children’s show, said it was a “sad day for Sesame Street.”

With such serious allegations of a massive cover up of, one must ask what role  the BBC has played in these events.

Reportedly, the BBC planned to run an episode of “Newsnight,” the British version of “60 Minutes,” exposing Savile’s misconduct, but was supposedly canceled due to lack of evidence.

Mark Thompson headed the BBC at the time of Savile’s employment and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in pulling the documentary. Currently, British investigators are looking into what knowledge Thompson actually had about the scandal and why he chose to pull  the documentary from the air. A New York Times Co. spokesman affirmed Thompson’s innocence in any protective behavior.

“He has the confidence of management …   He has said (in multiple press interviews) that he didn’t know about this and we take him at his word,” said New York Times Co. spokesman Robert Christie in an interview with the Washington Post. “There’s no evidence that he did (the accused act).”

As for now, the New York Times Co. has the task of reporting on the internal sexual abuse scandal. The New York Time’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan has expressed admiration of the company’s public coverage.

“To its credit, the New York Times is reporting this story regularly through its London bureau, and has displayed it several times on the website’s home page,” said Sullivan.

Professor of Political Science George Guo sees this scandal as leaving a lasting negative impression on the BBC.

“This scandal is the worst crisis in nearly 50 years for the BBC. The cover-up has been raising concern about public trust and confidence in the BBC,” Guo said in an email interview. “The BBC may be forced to review its culture and practices — whether there has been an alleged culture of sexism and whether allegations of sexual abuse have been ignored within Britain’s widely respected public broadcaster.”

For now, repercussions of the scandal will be met by the BBC and will likely include costly lawsuits, firings and more BBC employees being named in the scandal.

Although the now-deceased Savile faces no threat of prison time, his long-lasting reputation of fame has been tarnished indefinitely.

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