One of the most frustrating aspects of the Savile furore currently blitzing the media is how he managed to commit so many crimes without a full investigation being launched by the police, when it’s apparent that several complaints were filed against him. However, times have changed and even one accusation is enough to secure the full weight of the law bearing down upon any suspected perpetrator. We see it daily; only last week the teacher who ran away to France with a consenting 15 year old has now been charged with abduction of a minor after a national manhunt tracked him down in another country.
I read a post by someone who said that a family friend of his went on a mission to bring Savile down for sexually abusing his young daughter. Only his eventual death prevented him from his continued mission for justice. Apparently, the man was informed by Savile’s lawyers that his quest would be fruitless, since high placed connections were stacked up against him and top police commissioners were in back pockets. One has to wonder how many of these instances those lawyers deftly fielded away over the course of representing their nefarious client. Savile was protected in more ways than one.
I read an article by a journalist who recounted interviewing Savile a decade hence. He said the most daunting thing was initially meeting his subject, who before even a hello could be spoken, coldly instructed his bodyguards with the words,
You’d be forgiven for asking why a man who was known publicly for staggering charitable works needed bodyguards. Celebrities who (in this age of psycho stalkers) equip themselves with security, are not generally in the habit of assuming everyone they encounter, especially journalists with a pre-arranged appointment, are carrying weapons with intent to a violent attack. It would seem that Savile expected the worst for reasons he was already aware of.
This would seem to answer why victims, isolated from each other and unaware of a pattern of abuse, faced with offering the word of a child against the monolithic perception of a preternaturally charitable and philanthropic man, would be too intimidated to go up against such a reputation of saintliness. Who would believe them? Certainly not the 5000 people who lined up to pay their respects to the funeral casket. How well placed did the lowly nurses on wards feel, to stand forward and accuse the man who had raised 40 million pounds for their facility, and practically owned the building and institution they were employed by? Now the charitable work makes sense – an insurance policy.
I’m about to argue a case for vigilante-ism, which goes against all civilised moral code.
My sister was the victim of an attempted abduction at the age of 14, in 1972. Innocently enough, just after dark, she was waiting at a bus stop to come home from the local youth club when a man stopped his car and attempted to wrestle her into it. She struggled free and ran to the nearest house; from there she called home.
With a description of the car to go on, the first thing my father did was to jump into his own and scour the area for the culprit. He had no luck.
His next move was to visit the local police station and file a report. The police told him they immediately recognised who the man was; he’d been under observation, it wasn’t his first attempt. They also told my father that although they were aware, legally they were bound, and they could do nothing unless he was caught in the act. These were the restrictions of law back then that the police were obliged to abide by.
Some of the policemen on duty were on my father’s local rugby team and knew him socially. They considered the information and descriptions given, then did something highly illegal: Leafing through the file of complaints as they took details, they deliberately left the file open on the page with the man’s name and address, placed it on the desk in full view of my father, and invented a reason to walk away and look preoccupied. My dad didn’t need it spelled out. He paid the man a visit at home.
Now, my father was not a tall man, but he was built to be a formidable rugby scrum half, was on the local tug-of-war team and boxed for the Merchant Navy. He could be terrifying if it suited him.
The guy’s stringy wife answered the door. From my dad’s demeanour she understood immediately the reason he was on the doorstep, being apparently well aware of the nature of her husband’s activities. There were small children in the house.
“Don’t hurt him!” she pleaded. Restrained from violence in front of the children, my father hauled the man outside and gave him a talking to which more than likely scared the living shit out of him. He said, in later years, it involved pointing out that he was appraised of the address and if he ever heard from the police of another try, he’d disembowel him on the spot, kids or no.
The police were not aware of any other attempts in the long years that followed, but then, the local man did not have the power of obfuscation and wealth behind him. Could not buy bodyguards and expensive lawyers.
They say, It Takes A Village. It’s also painfully true that people are persecuted when they are innocent, and the law supposes, rightly, that one is innocent until proven guilty.
I once argued in favour of the death penalty for the rape and murder of a child with a learned friend, until I realised I was arguing with an intellectual standpoint that didn’t have children of their own. They had a right to their moral stand-point, but could not understand how emotion, and the protective instinct of a parent, trumps all ethic posturing.
If the village let it be known how offenders would be dealt with, without the shield of the law, would the issue persist?
Some may argue that in jail, offenders do indeed suffer wrath when breaking that peculiar criminal code of ‘what I do is crime, but paedophiles are outside honour among thieves and are liable for retribution at any opportunity’. That still isn’t a deterrent, it’s true.
Nevertheless, I don’t know how the Welsh parents of April Jones feel about that this week, now their four year old is presumed dead, having last been seen entering a car of a family friend.
I don’t know how I would feel, if it was my five year old grandson.
Actually, yes, I do know.
I’d feel murderous. Nothing could prevent me feeling so. Philosophically, I’m in the wrong. I do allow that to be true. Emotionally, I’m bang on the money.