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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Savile’s crimes were so appalling, they now seem close to incredible

There were few shocks or surprises in the NSPCC report on Jimmy Savile’s sex offences against children and young people.

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Savile Factor: Jimmy Savile

And that in itself is a problem that should worry us all... deeply Are we past the point at which we can be shocked by the torturing abuse of youngsters?

The children’s charity’s investigations into this now infamous predator’s ability to get off scot-free with a lifetime of tormenting hundreds of young people, found the serial sex attacker escaped exposure because his victims were not believed when they confided in others.

Many were ignored, dismissed or laughed at by those they told, shortly after Savile abused them. Some were even told by friends or relatives they were “lucky” the late DJ had paid attention to them.

The NSPCC report comes as more than 140 people are seeking compensation from Savile’s estate at the High Court. Its detail should shake every human sensitivity to its core. But it probably won’t. A numbness has fallen over what once was sickening abhorrence.

The report was commissioned by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to find out why so many victims stayed silent for so long.

The research was carried out through interviews with victims who told of how they had been abused as children and young adults. One of them had reported the matter to police at the time but no action was taken.

A number had been staying in hospital when they were abused. They told staff at the time but were not taken seriously.

We sort of knew victims of this man, who’d engaged in sexual depravity on an industrial scale, had not been heard. We expected them to have remained silent through fear, humiliation, disgust. shame.

We’ve come to anticipate a child being made to feel blame for an adult’s criminal behaviour. And our capacity for outrage-fatigue is growing. With every failed prosecution for celebrity paedophilia, it grows further.

So, now fashionable talk is of witch-hunts against the famous. Tittle-tattle concerns retrospective vendettas against the famous. Academics ponder the reduction of the age of consent – saves a lot of bother, if the child isn’t legally underage.

Remarkably, police and prosecutors are being made to feel nervous about following up reports of serious abuse – lest they be laughed out of court by juries bored with same-old, same-old predatory sex evidence.

Time, surely to rewind. Stop and imagine your own child in those terrified shoes – helpless, friendless, with no one to believe their cries for help. Unpleasant, isn’t it?

Jimmy Savile’s crimes were so appalling, they now seem close to incredible. Perhaps they always were. Maybe that was the problem.

Who could have believed one depraved man could have visited so much gratuitous pain on so many vulnerable girls and boys without anyone in authority wanting to risk tainting his squeaky-clean reputation?

Who could believe it now, of sex abusers who rely on our outrage-fatigue to prey on the young with threats of no one ever wanting to believe them?

You don’t think they exist? I do.

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