BBC looks into more claims as sex scandal grows

Posted: October 24, 2012

LONDON - A sexual abuse scandal shaking the BBC broadened Tuesday, with the broadcaster saying that it is investigating claims of sexual abuse and harassment against nine staff members and contributors, in addition to the late disgraced children's TV host Jimmy Savile.

The BBC has been rocked by allegations that Savile, who died last year, abused underage teens over several decades, sometimes on BBC premises. Some of the alleged victims have accused other entertainers and BBC staff of participating in abuse during the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

Director-general George Entwistle told British lawmakers Tuesday that the BBC was looking into historical allegations of sexual abuse or harassment against "between eight and 10" past and present employees.

The BBC press office later clarified the figure, saying there were allegations of "sexual harassment, assault or inappropriate conduct" against nine current or recent staff and contributors to the BBC, which employs about 20,000 people.

The broadcaster said some of the alleged offenses dated to years ago, but the victims had all come forward since the Savile scandal erupted. Some of the cases have been passed to police while others are being investigated internally.

Entwistle said it was too early to say whether sexual abuse had been endemic within Britain's publicly funded national broadcaster, but insisted the BBC would assist police if detectives chose to investigate whether there had been a pedophile ring at the corporation.

Entwistle acknowledged there had been "a problem of culture within the BBC . . . a broader cultural problem" that allowed Savile's behavior to go unchecked.

"There is no question that what Jimmy Savile did and the way the BBC behaved . . . will raise questions of trust for us and reputation for us," Entwistle said. "This is a gravely serious matter, and one cannot look back at it with anything other than horror."

Entwistle's testimony before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee came a day after the BBC aired a powerful documentary about the corporation's role in the expanding sex abuse scandal involving Savile, who died a year ago at age 84.

Since Savile's death, scores of women and several men have come forward to say the entertainer abused them when they were children or teenagers.

Police have identified more than 200 potential victims.

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