1 Jul 2014

How Savile and Harris must have haunted their victims

How is it that so many celebrities turned out to be child molesters? That’s the simple question a host of people have put to me during the Jimmy Savile/Rolf Harris season of discovery.

I have disclosed before in Snowblog how I was abused at six years old by a man who was very far from being a celebrity. He was a domestic servant in the school where my father taught.

I have only found myself recalling what happened because the whole subject of child abuse has come back centre stage – thanks to the celebrities involved. I’m lucky. The incident to which I was subjected, while unforgettable, does not haunt me.

But imagine if the man who molested and abused me, Jim, had been a celebrity – and one who got more and more famous as each year turned.

The initial shock that this famous man has taken advantage of you and done something to you that you did not invite, and may even have caused you great immediate pain, is bad enough.


But then to see him in the papers, on the TV peering out at you – no apology ever, just the horrible weekly, monthly, annual impression that he doesn’t give a damn what he did to you.

Year after year, Harris and Savile attract the apparent affection of the establishment and are rewarded with medals and honours. How bad would that make any of us feel? I described the sense of guilt that I as a child felt, that I in some way had done something dreadful. I had seen something I had never known to exist – a part of the human form in horrifying circumstance and condition.

How much would that sense of guild be exacerbated by the constant reminder of this ogre’s existence? How  could society be so wrong about him? It must be me that is wrong. How well one can understand that sentiment.

All praise to the policing efforts that have finally brought the prospect of closure to those these celebrities abused. It truly must have been a life sentence for so many of them.

But above all, let us all reserve the greatest gratitude, praise and abiding sympathy for those victims of these celebrities who have come forward to testify against their historic misdeeds.

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