Family of BBC's Savile offers sympathy to abuse victims

Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:45pm EDT
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By Alessandra Rizzo

LONDON (Reuters) - The family of the BBC presenter at the center of a sex abuse scandal that has rocked the broadcaster offered its "deepest sympathy" to the late Jimmy Savile's victims on Saturday, saying it felt "despair and sadness".

The statement came as the Vatican, responding to a letter from the Catholic Church in England asking whether Savile's papal knighthood could be revoked, said the honor died with the person but in hindsight "should not have been bestowed".

Police said this week that some 300 victims had come forward and that they were preparing to make arrests in a scandal that has already damaged the BBC's reputation.

Savile's nephew Roger Foster said the family had been unaware of the TV host's "darker side" and was struggling to reconcile the image of the man they loved with the allegations of abuse of young girls.

"How could the person we thought we knew and loved do such a thing?" said the statement. "We recognize that even our own despair and sadness does not compare to that felt by the victims."

Savile, a cigar-chomping former DJ who was one of the BBC's top presenters, died last year aged 84.

The scandal has destroyed the reputation of a man who had been widely admired and honored for his charity work, and has raised troubling questions about the BBC's management and its workplace culture in the past.

Police have said Savile was "undoubtedly" one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders, while the head of the BBC's governing body has called the allegations a "tsunami of filth".   Continued...

Disgraced British entertainer Jimmy Savile is seen arriving at the unveiling of a new monument, commemorating the fighter pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain, in London in this September 18, 2005 file photograph. REUTERS/Paul Hackett/Files