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[personal profile] innocent_lex
Trigger warning: discussion of sexual abuse.

Over the last few weeks something really horrific has been coming to light here. It turns out that a very famous Brit, who raised millions for charity, who had a TV programme where he granted kids' wishes, who got his OBE in the year I was born, who was knighted in '96, who was an all around good bloke, was apparently one of the most prolific rapists and serial child molesters we've ever known in this country.

People outside the UK may well have never heard of Jimmy Saville. He was a TV and radio presenter back when I was a kid. He was famous for that as well as for his unending support of Stoke Mandeville Hospital (which people who watched the paralympics will have heard of). And he hosted Jim'll Fix It, which was *the* thing to get on back in the day. Sure, you could get a Blue Peter badge, which was better than pretty much anything, but having a "Jim Fixed It For Me" medallion hanging round your neck was something else. The one thing that always creeped me out about Jim'll Fix It when I was a kid was how Saville used to hug the kids in close to him so often. No, I wasn't some kind of spookily knowing child, but it always looked to me that the kids felt the same as any kid does when Great Uncle Horace wants you to give him a kiss and a long hug when you're eight and you don't want people who you only see once every couple of years and who are a bit weird and who wear stinky aftershave to get that close to you.

And all the while, there were rumours, apparently, that Saville was molesting kids - mostly (but I think not solely) girls. Various newspapers wanted to run the story but were warned off as they didn't have evidence. Victims who spoke up weren't believed, and were sometimes punished. The police apparently tried to start investigations a couple of times, but that didn't go anywhere. The BBC almost ran a slot on Newsnight about it, but they say they couldn't corroborate their evidence. And finally ITV (another TV channel) ran a programme where they had a couple of victims speak up. And that was it: the floodgates opened.

Scotland Yard are following up on 340 lines of enquiry. They say they're in contact with 40 victims, but we suspect there are many more, probably 60, possibly more than that. Reports are coming out that Saville molested and / or raped children at the BBC, at hospitals, while on the road, and in schools, over the course of several decades. The BBC and various other institutions are kicking off their own enquiries into who knew what, when they knew it, and why things weren't done to stop him. Victims may finally get some kind of closure, but not the kind that they might otherwise hope for because Saville himself died 7 years ago.

And the question that keeps coming up is how the hell he got away with it for so long. How could people know about this (and people must have known as it was reported time and again) and not do everything they could to at least keep him away from kids? It was a long time ago, people say, and things were different then. Attitudes were different. Culture was different. In a way I do believe that a tiny bit, because the fact that it's actually coming out and victims are finally being believed shows that something's changed. But wow, if it's true that so many people didn't give a shit about the victims over the years, didn't believe them, didn't want to believe them, didn't want to risk writing a story about such a man because of his status... that was a truly shitty time and I'm glad we're not still there. But it's still taken seven years after the man's death for this to finally see the light of day.

And hearing all of this, knowing that there are so many other kids out there, adults now, who went through the same thing and who will never get even this far, never have their stories heard or be believed because of the same reasons and more that Saville's victims have gone through, is truly awful. What a horrendous invention humanity is, that we harbour such evil.

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April 2013

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