- Associated Press - Thursday, October 25, 2012

LONDON (AP) — Disgraced BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile was investigated in the 1980s over an allegation of indecent assault, police said Thursday as they announced that 300 potential victims had come forward so far with abuse accusations against the late TV host.

The twin announcements showed how a sex-abuse scandal that is engulfing one of Britain’s most venerable news organizations was showing no signs of abating.

Officers have interviewed 130 of the 300 potential victims so far and even more are expected to contact authorities, Cmdr. Peter Spindler, leader of the Scotland Yard inquiry, said Thursday.

The late entertainer, a well-known children’s television and radio host, is accused of using his fame to coerce vulnerable teens into having sex with him in his car, in his camper van and even in dressing rooms on BBC premises.

The police commander acknowledged he had been stunned by the volume of abuse allegations reported to his team of 30 officers in the three weeks since details about Savile’s activities first came to public attention.

“It is quite staggering, the number of women … and this is primarily women, we have only got two men in the system so far,” Cmdr. Spindler said.

Cmdr. Spindler said Savile, who died last October at age 84, was “undoubtedly” one of the worst sex offenders in recent British history.

Since the allegations aired on British television this month, London police have received three times the usual number of calls about allegations of past sexual abuse. The NSPCC, a leading British children’s charity, said it had received 60 percent more calls about abuse cases.

“I have no doubt that we are in a watershed moment for child abuse investigations,” Cmdr. Spindler said.

Knighted for his charity work at hospitals and homes for children, Savile is alleged to have deliberately supported such causes to target troubled youths whose credibility would be questioned if they reported the alleged sexual abuse.

Cmdr. Spindler said that although the majority of cases related to Savile alone, some involved the former television host and other unidentified suspects acting together. In addition, some potential victims who had reported abuse by Savile also told police about separate allegations against the unidentified men that did not involve the BBC entertainer.

Cmdr. Spindler confirmed that police could seek to prosecute any suspects who are still living, but he said no one has been arrested or questioned so far.

The commander also disclosed for the first time that a retired London police officer had contacted Scotland Yard to confirm that he investigated Savile in the 1980s after a young woman alleged he indecently assaulted her inside his trailer while it was parked on BBC premises. The ex-officer explained there hadn’t been sufficient evidence to prosecute Savile at the time, Cmdr. Spindler said.

Police also have discovered that a woman contacted Scotland Yard in 2003 to allege that Savile had touched her inappropriately in the 1970s but did not seek to press charges. Surrey police also have acknowledged they questioned Savile in 2007 over an allegation tied to the Duncroft school, but prosecutors declined to bring charges.

The Savile scandal has rocked the BBC and prompted disbelief that the presenter’s crimes could have gone unnoticed or unreported by colleagues or managers.

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