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Police probe hospital abuse claims against TV host Jimmy Savile

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
October 12, 2012 -- Updated 0317 GMT (1117 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two hospitals are working with the police over claims of abuse by Jimmy Savile
  • The BBC children's TV host, who died in 2011, is accused of sexually assaulting vulnerable girls
  • The claims of abuse date back to the 1960s and 1970s
  • London's Metropolitan Police is now pursuing 120 separate lines of inquiry.

London (CNN) -- Two British hospitals said Thursday they're cooperating with a police investigation into claims that a popular children's television host molested teenage girls on their premises.

The investigation into Jimmy Savile, who died last year, has dominated Britain's headlines since claims of sexual abuse were made by five women in a documentary aired by UK broadcaster ITV last week.

Read more: Veteran BBC presenter Jimmy Savile dies

Those interviewed for the ITV film, titled "Exposed -- the Other Side of Jimmy Savile," gave detailed accounts of alleged sexual assaults by the TV host when they were as young as 14 or 15. One said she was raped by him at age 16.

Many more allegations have surfaced since the show aired, with London's Metropolitan Police now pursuing hundreds of separate lines of inquiry.

Two claims involve Leeds General Infirmary, a hospital in northern England where Savile spent time as a volunteer and charity supporter, a spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said in a statement. The host was famed for his charity fund-raising.

The trust said it was shocked by the claims and has no record of complaints about Savile's behavior.

"As a result of the TV documentary and subsequent media publicity we have, however, been contacted by two individuals, one of whom wishes to remain anonymous, about incidents said to have occurred in the 1970s," the statement said.

"Clearly this whole matter needs to be looked into fully and we will give every cooperation to the police, who are best placed to do so."

A second hospital, Stoke Mandeville, also said it was shocked by the serious allegations against Savile.

"We have been contacted by the police this week and are supporting them fully with their inquiries. If their findings suggest that we do need to take further action then we will do so," a statement said.

The furor has shocked a generation in Britain who grew up watching Savile, one of the most recognizable figures in British showbiz from the 1960s to the 1980s, or listening to his radio shows.

He was the first host of the BBC's hugely popular "Top of the Pops" music show, and his own program, "Jim'll Fix It," ran for almost 20 years. Thousands of children wrote in every week with special requests for him to "fix," or make happen.

Newspaper reports said Savile appears to have used his access to children, through his charity and TV work, as a means to prey on vulnerable young people.

Britain's public service broadcaster, the BBC, has also been dragged into the controversy because some of the alleged assaults in the 1960s and 1970s happened on its premises.

Read more: BBC apologises to Queen over Abu Hamza revelation

The BBC has promised an independent investigation into the allegations as soon as the police inquiry allows.

The controversy has prompted a wider examination of an apparent culture of sexism at the BBC in past decades that may have fed into abusive behavior.

After a request from his family, Savile's headstone was removed Wednesday from the cemetery in Scarborough, northern England, where he was buried, UK media reported.

A nephew of Savile, Roger Foster, told The Telegraph newspaper last month he had "every faith" his uncle was innocent of the claims and would have defended himself "vigorously" had the allegations been made in his lifetime.

Savile was well known for his fund-raising efforts, and ran several marathons for charity. He was awarded a knighthood for his charitable work.

CNN's Natasha Macguder contributed to this report.

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