BBC under fire in Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal

(CBS News) It's a darkly familiar story. A great institution smeared by scandal, a respected figure accused of child abuse, and lots of alleged young victims. In this case, it's not Penn State, it's the British Broadcasting Corporation, and it's not former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, it's Jimmy Savile.

Savile was a flamboyant DJ and TV Bandstand host in the heyday of British '60s and '70s pop culture.

He was a bleach-blonde, mop-top, cigar-chomping national institution -- the idol of teenie-boppers and younger children across the land, which was convenient for him because it turns out Savile is accused of being a serial child molester who preyed on his fans.

Witnesses say he'd sometimes take them into the motor home that followed him on his charity runs or allege that he'd take them into his dressing room at the BBC, or that he would abuse children during visits to hospitals, or he'd molest them at a mental institution where disturbed children were sent.

Steven George -- who before his sex change was a teenage girl -- was one of those institutionalized children. George said, "And he then put his hand between my legs and there was nothing I could do. The kind of institution it was, you couldn't stand up and say, 'Oh look, this is what this man is doing stop him' or whatever, they would have punished us. They wouldn't have believed us."

Jimmy Savile -- Sir Jimmy Savile after his knighthood -- died a year ago. But the rumors that he was a predatory pedophile persisted, and a BBC News program began to prepare a report. Suspiciously, that report was cancelled, just as a series of tributes to Savile were about to be broadcast.

The new head of the BBC George Entwistle is now trying to defend his organization, and, in front of a hostile parliamentary committee, denied a cover-up: "This is a gravely serious matter and one cannot look back on it without horror, frankly," he said.

Investigations have been launched. Who knew what Savile was up to, and why didn't they stop it?

Savile once rubbed shoulders with the the good, the great and the famous, include the Pope, Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Now his reputation has been destroyed. And the question now is, will he take the reputation of one of the world's great media organizations down with him?

There's an American angle to this story, as well. Mark Thompson, who was in charge at the BBC during the time the Savile story was canceled, is moving on to a new job as president and chief executive officer of The New York Times.

Watch Mark Phillips' report in the video above.

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