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The Abuser Who Groomed a Nation

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So, now it is official! With the publication of the police report investigating the Jimmy Savile scandal, the full extent of Savile’s “staggering and grotesque” six decades of sexual abuse has been laid bare. This man who spent his life as a popular disc jockey, television presenter, charity fundraiser and media personality has in death seen his reputation destroyed by an avalanche of allegations.

Giving Victims a Voice, the 37-page report issued January 10, concludes that the allegations against Savile are so prolific and widespread, and on such a scale, as to establish beyond reasonable doubt that Jimmy Savile was “one of the UK’s most prolific known sexual predators… unprecedented in the UK” (p. 24).

The report documents 450 known allegations of Savile’s sexual abuse against men and women, the majority of whom were young people under 18 years of age. Offenses took place at the BBC, at schools, in hospitals, and even at a hospice, where Savile either worked or visited. The report reveals that Savile was, over a 54-year period stretching from 1954 to 2009, “hiding in plain sight and using his celebrity status and fundraising activity to gain uncontrolled access to vulnerable people” (p. 6). Commander Peter Spindler, who headed the police enquiry, said Savile had “groomed a nation” and that the report “paints a stark picture emphasizing the tragic consequences of when vulnerability and power collide.” The co-author of the report, Detective Inspector David Grey, maintained that Savile spent “every waking minute” thinking about and planning his episodes of abuse.

Peter Watt, co-author of the report and member of the Executive Board of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, commented that this sordid and horrific affair “simply beggars belief.” And so it does! One wonders how such things can happen and “why was it not noticed and stopped by police, health, education or social services professionals, people at the BBC or other media, parents or carers, politicians or even ‘society in general?’” (p. 6). This affair indeed raises the most profound and disturbing questions about the performance of the BBC, the police, the justice system, today’s celebrity and media culture, and above all, the deteriorating, permissive moral state of the nation.

Sunday Telegraph columnist Matthew D’Ancona wrote that the Savile scandal had sowed corrosive seeds of doubt and undermined confidence in the entire justice system, “revealing only malady, dysfunction and failure” (January 12, 2013). The only solution he saw was stark indeed: “The nation’s jester made fools of us all, identifying and exploiting the weaknesses in the system with ruthless success. In the absence of true justice, the only honourable response—beyond contrition and reviews—is to repair that system, and confidence in it, as if starting from scratch.”

But how can that be done? How can a system be repaired from scratch? The solution is simple: bring back biblical morality and place it at the very heart of all national institutions! 400 years ago the newly minted Bible in English became the backbone of England and served to a large extent as the basis for its laws and institutions. The nation lived and breathed the Bible more than at any other time in her history. Yet today we have forgotten that the Word of God is the very foundation of knowledge; that respect and honour for God are the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7).

The overriding issue behind the Savile scandal—for Britain and the rest of the world—is this: by what kind of moral values are we to live? The truth is that the Bible defines those morals. What we need to do is to place them at the heart of all national institutions and make them the bedrock of national life—then watch the nation thrive.

For more on the Savile scandal and its impact on the UK and the BBC, read our Tomorrow’s World article, “Moral Meltdown Devastates BBC,” from the January-February 2013 issue of the magazine. And, watch our telecast, “Morality Without God?